There is a surge of interest in alternative treatments for medical problems. As consumers continue to use Google and Youtube in their search for information related to health and medicine, it is unlikely that the increased interest shown for alternative medical treatments will wain.
Unfortunately, insurance providers are slow to authorize many of the newest and most groundbreaking medical procedures that are categorized as alternative medicine. The journey that new treatments must make to becoming a viable option in the eyes of insurance carriers is lengthy and requires verifiable scientific proof.
That is why, after decades of use, chiropractic services are finally starting to show up on insurance companies approved list of covered treatments. That explains why you should commit to learning the facts about the different payment options available for obtaining the alternative treatments you want.
Types of Alternative Medicine Treatments Typically Covered by Insurance Policies
The truth is that most alternative medical treatments are still being paid by the patient. There is some good news on the horizon. The landscape is changing as more insurance companies are responding to the demand by consumers for treatments that are still not considered conventional.
As the internet continues to change the way consumers conduct research, the average patient is more aware of the many medical options they have at their disposal. Medical procedures that were once unknown, are now growing in popularity as society considers a more holistic approach to health.
While it is always recommended that you check with your insurance company prior to seriously considering an alternative medical treatment, some of these treatments are more likely to be covered than others. Even so, you should still check to review the details.
Some of the alternative treatments that are often covered by insurance companies include:
- Massage Therapy
- Chiropractic Services
- And naturopathy
Keep in mind that the latest therapies are probably not going to be covered by your insurance company. That does not mean you shouldn't check to be sure.
Insurance companies tend to take time to evaluate new procedures, especially when they are non-traditional. Even though your research efforts on YouTube may uncover some interesting treatments, don't get your hopes up until you run the details by a professional insurance representative.
How to Find out if Your Insurance Covers Alternative Medicine Treatments
If you don't want to end up with a big financial surprise after your treatment, it is important to remember to ask detailed questions before scheduling a medical procedure. Take notes. Be sure to ask all of the questions that come to mind.
If you don't ask the right questions, then you are setting yourself up for an unexpected charge. There are often different deductibles placed on alternative treatments. Also, be sure the physician you want to use is covered too.
Some of the first questions you should be asking relate to whether the treatment needs to be accessed via a prescription or as a referral.
You also need to inquire about which practitioner you can use and whether you are limited to only using someone specifically in the network. It is also recommended that you find out whether practitioners outside of the network are offered some type of partial coverage.
Asking about dollar limits, allowable visits and deductibles is also advisable. Insurance companies differ in the way they handle coverage, so it pays to ask the right questions to ensure that your treatment is covered.
You need to know when the coverage starts exactly and whether the deductible is a factor. Some coverage begins only after the deductible is paid.
When time is on your side and you're planning to get a procedure in the future, it is much easier to do your research and move forward with all the information you need to be sure your alternative therapies are covered.
Unfortunately, an emergency situation makes it much more difficult to get the answers you need. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have a trusted family member or friend who knows your wishes so they can step in as your advocate if necessary during an emergency.
When you document your conversations with insurance company representatives, it can come in handy if there is a claim dispute. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have misunderstandings that impact your bill.
Also, be sure to save any documents or correspondence in an organized file so that you have some verificiation about what you were told.
Medicare Coverage of Alternative Medicine
Medicare does not usually offer coverage for alternative treatments considered to be non-traditional.
This fact does not mean that there aren't some exceptions. Chiropractic care is often covered by Medicare Part B as it relates to spinal manipulation when deemed necessary.
Medicare Part B also covers medical nutrition therapy for patients with kidney disease or diabetes. This therapy is also available for kidney transplant patients who went through the procedure during the previous 36-month period.
Patients must obtain a referral from their practitioner or an authorized practitioner. Semantics are important when you wade through the fine print of Medicare offerings.
Essentially, patients are encouraged to thoroughly read through Medicare paperwork to review what is offered and what is not.
For example, counseling is not specifically offered as a covered service by Medicare, but there is therapy available to treat people who abuse alcohol. Additionally, depression screenings are also offered.
Medicaid Coverage of Alternative Medicine
Medicaid programs in some states are being expanded to offer alternative medical options instead of opioids to treat pain. While opioids are a very effective way to eliminate pain, the opioid epidemic has forced Medicare professionals to rethink the wisdom of prescribing opioids on a regular basis.
Many states are now authorizing massage, yoga, and acupuncture to address pain. Not surprisingly, there is some pushback as state Medicare administrators turn to alternative medicine therapies for pain management options.
Critics cry foul, arguing that taxpayers are being duped into paying for questionable treatments that are unproven. Ohio led the way in this shift by accepting acupuncture treatments as a covered alternative for pain management.
Other states have also joined in, offering alternative pain management therapies to Medicaid patients.
Options for Alternative Medicines Not Covered by Insurance
Find a insurance provider that covers alternative
One obvious option is to identify and apply with an insurance company that does offer alternative health treatments. While most insurance companies provide few services outside of traditional treatment options, there are some companies that proudly break through that barrier to pave the way for new treatments that have yet to be approved by most insurance companies.
Insurance companies like On'A HealthCare should be considered as a viable consideration. They provide cutting-edge solutions like energy medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, and allopathic treatments.
Establish a Health Savings Account
One way to get a cost break on alternative treatments not covered by insurance is to open a health savings account (HSA). By using this type of account, the payment for the treatments is tax-free. While it may not make paying for alternative health treatments as affordable as insurance covered services, saving money on taxes is at least a step in the right direction.
There are unique benefits afforded to people who open an HSA account. This investment benefits investors without restrictions. Anyone willing to open an account can do so without worrying about requirements for a substantial deposit or having to meet arbitrary health prerequisites set by these companies.
Another reason HSAs are popular is that they earn interest that is tax-free. HSAs are also considered a practical option for paying for alternative health treatments since they are not employer-specific. Normal life changes do not impact this account since it is yours. If you change your plan, make a transition to a new company or retire, the HSA is unaffected.
That account is yours and yours alone. You never lose money. Different from flexible spending accounts, the full balance rolls over annually so that you never lose any money you've invested.
Another way to save money on alternative treatment costs is to use member discounts offered by insurers. The best way to learn about these discounts is to simply Google member discounts for your insurer.
Common discounts offered are services like gym memberships, various supplements, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments, to name a few.
Expect restrictions that limit your providers to in-network options for chiropractic and acupuncture services.
Finally, there are loans and payment plans that can be used to pay for medical costs. These unsecured loans can be used to pay for deductibles or charges incurred when using an out-of-network provider.
Emergency services are also a common reason people need large sums of money to get critical care. Online lenders offer these loans for as little as $1000 and up to $100,000. It is important to do the necessary research and shop around.
A more affordable vehicle that is sometimes available is a financing plan offered by the medical provider. This should be the first consideration since many providers offer more reasonable terms and interest rates as compared to a typical medical loan.
Prepare to make a reasonable deposit followed by regular monthly payments.
WebMD reports that 40 percent of American citizens admit to using alternative health treatments.
The fact that insurance agencies do not typically cover newer treatments means you must work around this challenge if you want to use treatments deemed unconventional and unproven by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance authorities.
Understanding the landscape helps you navigate this reality without giving up the benefits that many alternative therapies offer.