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Does Medicare Pay For Naturopathic Doctors

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Does Medicare Cover Naturopathic Care

Medicare & You: Understanding Your Medicare Choices

Naturopathy and naturopathic medicine have caught the attention of many people. This includes many seniors. That is because of the health benefits it brings and the fact that it seems to have few side effects.

Also natural medicine and treatment aim to treat not just symptoms, but the body itself. This can help prevent suffering from many ailments. So a common question many people have is, does Medicare cover Naturopathic Care? In this article, we answer the question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of Naturopathic care, as well as other helpful info.

What Counts As Alternative Or Holistic Medicine

âAlternative medicineâ is an umbrella term for different medical practices or theories that fall outside of the generally accepted medical orthodoxy. When used in conjunction with traditional medicine it is sometimes called complementary medicine. Itâs also been called holistic medicine, since it often focuses on treatments for the whole person â mind, body, and spirit. There are many different types of practices that fall under the term âalternative medicine,â from special diet to meditation to yoga. The services can also range from the medically grounded massage therapy to the more spiritual reiki. The most commonly practiced alternative medicine is called ânatural products,â which includes dietary supplements and vitamins. You may even practice it.

With such a wide range of services that fall under alternative medicine, the general effectiveness is difficult to verify. While some alternative medicines have some scientific backing that show their value as a treatment option, others have been called ineffective or even dangerous depending on the treatment. If youâre interested in an alternative and holistic medicine option, make sure you consult with your doctor, do your research, and work with a professional so that youâre taking every necessary precaution.

Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage Plans

Many Medicare beneficiaries take advantage of a different program, Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage plans. Instead of utilizing Medicare and a Medigap insurance policy, these patients have all their provider services billed to the insurance company with which they have enrolled into their Medicare Advantage plan.

While by law, Advantage plans must be at least actuarially equivalent to Original Medicare, they can also provide additional benefits, such as dental, vision, hearing, transport, and even health club memberships.

Most significant to Naturopathic Physicians, is the fact that some, but though not all, Advantage plans provide some level of benefit for Naturopathic treatment and care. For patients who are enrolled in such plans, they can typically visit Naturopathic Physicians for only a co-pay.

Timing is critical

Timing is critical. We are currently in the annual Open Enrollment period. Patients have until December 07 to join or change their Advantage plan. Patients can find details of plans in their area at While this is a very comprehensive website, interpreting the details and knowing what to look for is not simple.

Benefits vary greatly by plan and pricing is generally much less than Medigap policies, with some as little as $0/mo premiums. It is very important that patients seek guidance from a knowledgeable insurance agent in determining which plans suit their individual needs, and how those benefits actually work.

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Does Medicare Advantage Cover Naturopathy

Medicare Advantage plans must cover at least as much as Medicare. While many of them will follow Medicare standards and opt-out of covering naturopathy, its not impossible to find a plan that offers more coverage for these services. Take a look at the plans in your area to see if one offers more coverage for naturopathy.

What Is Holistic Medicine

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Holistic medicine is an approach to healing that addresses the whole person mind, body and spirit. It is an alternative to the more conventional methods of healing that we have come to know in this day of modern Western medicine.

Holistic or alternative medicine has been growing in popularity in recent years, but Original Medicare does not provide coverage for this type of treatment.

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Improve Medicare For All Beneficiaries

Medicare is extremely popular, but it needs attention to ensure all beneficiaries receive comprehensive coverage and equitable treatment. The Medicare program that Americans know and cherish has been allowed to wither. Traditional Medicare, preferred by most beneficiaries, has not been improved in years, yet private Medicare Advantage plans have been repeatedly bolstered. Its time to build a better Medicare for all those who rely on it now, and will in the future.

Does Medicare Cover Osteopathy

Osteopathy isnt the same as naturopathy. In fact, Medicare provides coverage for services from doctors of osteopathic medicine as well as doctors of medicine . Similar to naturopathy, osteopathy focuses holistically on the body and avoids the use of drugs.

This type of medicine focuses on manipulating the bones and muscle tissue to promote healing. Yet, that aspect is considered an extra in the training that DOs undergo.

DOs obtain the same training as MDs, complete residencies, and are recognized nationwide. Therefore, Medicare covers visits to a DOs office the same way they cover visits to an MD. The DO of your choice must accept Medicare assignment, and your treatment should be medically necessary for coverage to kick in.

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Does Medicare Cover Naturopathic Doctors

Medicare doesnt cover visits to naturopathic doctors . While the Medicare-covered services above technically qualify as naturopathy, Medicare wont pay for services from an ND, including generic visits.

A licensed acupuncturist must perform Medicare-approved acupuncture. Many NDs also happen to be licensed acupuncturists, but acupuncture to treat chronic lower back pain caused by a misaligned spine is the only service from this practitioner that will receive coverage.

Additionally, its only possible to get coverage for chiropractic services performed by a licensed doctor of chiropractic . Its important to remember that the physical manipulation services NDs perform is similar to chiropractic care, but doesnt qualify as such.

While naturopathic doctors go through extensive education and training, not every state issues licenses to naturopathic doctors. Also, naturopathic doctors dont need to complete medical residencies. Therefore, their training isnt comparable to that of a medical doctor.

Yet, what Medicare covers is subject to change yearly. The range of whats covered will possibly expand to include visits to an ND. Advantage plans may cover services from NDs in certain states.

What Types Of Common Blood Tests Are Covered

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Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans cover many types of screening and diagnostic blood tests. There may be limits on how frequently Medicare will cover certain tests.

You can appeal a coverage decision if you or your doctor believe a test should be covered. Certain screening blood tests, like those for heart disease, are fully covered with no coinsurance or deductibles.

Examples of covered blood tests

Here are some of the conditions that are commonly screened through blood tests and how often you can have them done with Medicare coverage:

  • Diabetes: once a year, or up to twice per year if you are higher risk
  • Heart disease: cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides screening once every 5 years
  • HIV: once a year based on risk
  • Hepatitis : once a year depending on risk
  • Sexually transmitted diseases: once a year

If your doctor thinks you need more frequent testing for certain diagnostic tests due to your specific risk factors, you may have to pay for testing more often. Ask your doctor and the lab for more information about your specific test.

It might be helpful to have a supplemental plan for more frequent testing. You can go to the Medicare Medigap policy website for information on all the plans for 2021 and whats covered. You can also call the plan directly for more information.

Examples of covered tests include:


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Q: How Can I Find Out If My Health Insurance Policy Covers Naturopathic Care

A: Review your policy. If you’re still unsure, contact your insurer. Ask these questions:

  • Am I covered for this treatment?
  • Do I need a referral or prescription from my general practitioner?
  • Will I have to meet a deductible or pay a copay?
  • Am I limited to a certain number of visits?
  • What are some local providers in my policy network?
  • What is my “Out-of-Network” coverage?
  • Do I have coverage for lab testing?

Medicare Coverage For Genetic Tests: Know The Facts

May 2, 2019

Medicare typically covers genetic tests only when a beneficiary has signs or symptoms that can be further clarified by diagnostic testing. Medicare also covers some genetic tests that assess an individuals ability to metabolize certain drugs. The only screening test Medicare will cover is to determine if a beneficiary has colorectal cancer. That test is appropriate when a beneficiary has no symptoms of colorectal cancer and only an average risk of developing it. Federal Regulation 42 CFR § 410.32 requires genetic tests to be ordered by a physician who is treating the beneficiary.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy has heard of beneficiaries who have been approached outside of their doctors offices by individuals and companies seeking, inappropriately, to assure them that Medicare will pay for DNA kits and screening tests. Beneficiaries should always seek the advice and orders of their treating physician on Medicare-coverage related issues. A detailed article on Medicare coverage and oversight of genetic testing, authored by a long-time colleague of the Center, Mike Klug, can be found at

May 2, 2019 K. Holt

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Is Naturopathy Covered By Medicare

Naturopathy is naturopathic medicine. Used to prevent and heal a full range of ailments, it includes practices like acupuncture and chiropractic services. Massage, exercise, and nutrition are other examples of this genre of medicine.

Typically less invasive than most traditional methods, naturopathy focuses on alternative cures and treatments. Medicare recipients may opt for more natural remedies over expensive surgeries or prescription medications. But what does this mean for coverage? Well, Medicare only covers some services that fall under this category.

Recently, acupuncture started receiving coverage from Medicare. This change aims to reduce opioid painkiller dependence. Yet, Medicare only covers acupuncture when treating chronic lower back pain. Some Medicare Advantage plans provide additional acupuncture coverage.

The back pain must meet specific criteria to get coverage. If you want to try acupuncture to relieve pain in another part of your body or if your back pain isnt chronic, youll pay for the services.

Also, chiropractic services have coverage under Medicare only to correct a misaligned spine. If you visit the chiropractor for any other reason, your services wont have coverage. However, some Advantage plans provide extra chiropractic benefits that arent covered by Part B.

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Editors Note: Journalist Philip Moeller is here to provide the answers you need on aging and retirement. His weekly column, Ask Phil, aims to help older Americans and their families by answering their health care and financial questions. Phil is the author of the new book, Get Whats Yours for Medicare, and co-author of Get Whats Yours: The Revised Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security. Send your questions to Phil.

Alara California: I am 64 and have to decide by August whether to get Medicare. I only have $1,845 a month to live on. I was a nurse and massage therapist, which led me to becoming a natural health expert. This also allows me to get my Ayurvedic herbs and mushrooms wholesale. I rarely need a doctor. Im debating whether or not to sign up for Part B of Medicare. Its $134 a month, which is a lot of money to pay for something I may not need. Many doctors have a cash price. So do testing places. I like holistic doctors. OK, now its your turn!

Phil Moeller: Alaras question, I fear, will be asked by more and more older Americans who are being squeezed between inadequate retirement finances and a health care system that is unable or unwilling to provide them the care they need at a reasonable price. I do have what Ill call my textbook answer for her. But this is not to deny that she asks a very reasonable question and that she might be better off taking a pass for now, and perhaps forever, on Medicare.

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Which Parts Of Medicare Cover Blood Tests

Medicare Part A offers coverage for medically necessary blood tests. Tests can be ordered by a physician for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing, hospice, home health, and other related covered services.

Medicare Part B covers outpatient blood tests ordered by a physician with a medically necessary diagnosis based on Medicare coverage guidelines. Examples would be screening blood tests to diagnose or manage a condition.

Medicare Advantage, or Part C, plans also cover blood tests. These plans may also cover additional tests not covered by original Medicare . Each Medicare Advantage plan offers different benefits, so check with your plan about specific blood tests. Also consider going to in-network doctors and labs to get the maximum benefits.

Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage and does not cover any blood tests.

How To Find Out If Alternative Care Is Covered

If you are considering CAM, study your policy. It should outline what kind of treatment your insurance covers.

Most insurance plans only cover medically necessary’ treatment. Alternative care may not qualify. Some plans exclude naturopaths in their definition of a physician.’

If you read your policy and aren’t sure what’s covered, call your insurer. Ask these questions:

  • Am I covered for this treatment?
  • Do I need a referral or prescription from my general practitioner?
  • Will I have to meet a deductible or pay a copay?
  • What is my “Out-of-Network” coverage?
  • Do I have coverage for lab testing?
  • Am I limited to a certain number of visits?
  • What are some local providers in my policy network?

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What Is Naturopathic Treatment

Naturopathic medicine is an alternative way of treating a condition through natural means. It tackles broad medical and health issues such as allergies, digestive problems, hormonal imbalance, chronic fatigue syndrome, and many more.

Naturopathic treatment aims to strengthen the body, the mind, and the spirit to allow it to heal itself. It can be achieved through low-force interventions. However, before they can strengthen the mind, the body, and the spirit, naturopathic doctors first need to find out the root cause of the illness.

Unlike in traditional medicine, naturopathic treatment is less invasive.

Here are some services that a naturopathic doctor offers:

  • Botanical Medicine
  • Clinical and laboratory diagnostic testing
  • Nutritional medicine
  • Intravenous and injection treatment
  • Nutrition diet planning

Though some conditions require surgery or chemotherapy, you can still use the help of naturopathic treatment for support. It can help decrease side effects and increase the operations effectiveness.

Traditional medicine and naturopathic care do not necessarily contradict each other. One can very much enhance the other.

Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.

Medicare Advantage Plans Can Offer Some Additional Benefits

Does Medicare Advantage Offer Much Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans are required cover everything that Part A and Part B do . Medicare Advantage plans can also offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

Many Medicare Advantage plans include memberships to SilverSneakers or other wellness programs. A beneficiary seeking a more holistic approach to their health could utilize such a program for a more complete mind and body health strategy.

Some Medicare Advantage plans may also provide coverage for healthy food options. Again, beneficiaries can take advantage of this coverage as part of a holistic healthy lifestyle.

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How Much Do Blood Tests Cost

Costs of blood tests and other lab screening or diagnostic tests can vary. The costs are based on the particular test, your location, and the lab used. Tests can run from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. Thats why its important to check that your test is covered before you have it done.

Here are some of the blood test costs you can expect with the different parts of Medicare.

Q: Will My Health Insurance Cover A Naturopathic Doctor

A: Some insurers cover naturopathy and some don’t. To find out if you’re covered, review your policy. If it’s not clear, call your insurance company and ask what is and isn’t covered. You may have to convince them that your alternative care is necessary.

Insurers are much more likely to cover licensed NDs. Remember that when looking for alternative care.

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Alternative Care As Primary Care

Dr. Flood says NDs train as primary care providers. This makes them valuable when the demand for doctors outweighs the supply.

Medical doctors spend their first two years learning core subjects. In their third and fourth years they rotate through potential specialties. Students then choose an area of focus and spend three to five years perfecting it in residency.

Primary care, practiced as family or general medicine, isn’t a popular choice for residency. Hence, the lack of primary care doctors and impending shortage.

Licensed NDs attend a four-year program at a school like Seattle’s Bastyr University. Their first two years focus on basic medical knowledge and alternative medical therapies. Courses include anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry as well as homeopathy, Chinese medicine, and hydrotherapy.

The third and fourth years are more hands on. Students work with patients and learn to conduct physical exams.

Some naturopaths focus on fields like oncology or women’s health. But they pursue these areas only after graduation. “There are no specialties in naturopathy,” says Dr. Flood. “The whole focus of the degree is on primary care. Students step out the door with primary care and then they can narrow and train.”

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