As acupuncture becomes more popular, accepted, and understood, more insurance companies are beginning to pay for acupuncture treatments. Insurance companies are starting to recognize that acupuncture has great therapeutic effects and can be less costly long term for most patients and the insurance company itself. Most insurance companies would prefer to pay a few hundred dollars now for acupuncture treatments as oppose to several thousands of dollars later for an expensive surgery or hospital stay. There are some basic questions that you can research and ask your insurance company before beginning treatment that may help save you money.

1) Does your policy cover acupuncture?

Some insurance companies may cover most of the payment, some will cover partial payment, and some offer discounts if you see an in-network practiceer. It is important to note that insurance usually does not cover herbs or supplements that may be recommended by your practiceer for your specific condition. Even if your insurance only offers discounts for seeing a specific practitioner, the discount can be as much as 25% with some insurance companies and can really help save you a lot of money on your treatments.

2) Are there specific practitioners that are in-network for your insurance?

Some acupuncturists are contracted with specific insurance companies and some are not. Just like seeing an out of network doctor can lead to an expensive bill, so can an out of network acupuncturist. Sometimes, you can even log on your insurance companies website and find an acupuncturist in the same way you would find a new doctor.

3) How many treatments will my insurance cover?

Some insurance plans specify the number of treatments that they will cover and some do not. Sometimes, insurances will cover a specific number of treatments of chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists combined.

4) Will it cover my specific condition?

Most of the time insurance companies can not distinguish what conditions they cover and which ones they do not. It may or may not cover your specific condition, but sometimes it can be worth asking to find out.

5) Will I have any out of pocket expenses, such as a deductible or co-pay?

Sometimes you may need to cover a certain amount of the claim for each visit or a certain amount before the insurance begins coverage. It is worth asking so you can have clear financial expectations for your visits.

6) If my insurance does not cover acupuncture, can I use my health savings account to pay for treatments?

If your insurance does not cover acupuncture, you may be able to use your pre-tax health savings account debit cards to help cover the cost of treatments. You can check with your employer or administrator of your health savings plan to make sure before beginning treatments. Some credit card machines can process health savings account cards the same as any other credit card.

It is also important to consider that some acupuncturists do not directly bill your insurance for you. The practitioner may complete what is called a “super bill,” and give it to the patient to bill the insurance directly. This may be convenient for some people and not for others. Some patients may consider it inconvenient to learn how to bill their insurance and then wait for reimbursement. You can always ask the practitioner if they use a billing service, have an in-house billing person, or leave it to the patient to bill their insurance.

Using your insurance to help pay for alternative healthcare can help decrease your out-of-pocket costs, but you need to be aware of your coverage and limits of your insurance plan. If you approach it with same care of choosing a personal physician or specialist, you can help save yourself a lot of time and money spent.
Lastly, even if your insurance company does not cover acupuncture, it does not mean that you should hold off treatments and continue to suffer from your condition or symptoms if acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help make a difference for you. Some clinics may offer cash discounts, discounts for seniors, public servants, specific employers, or another association that you belong.