Ask a Therapist
By David Luther
Originally published in Body Sense
magazine, Fall 2002.
Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
Q. Is there any way for me to get my massage expenditures reimbursed by insurance?
A. The answer, unfortunately, is no, with a few small exceptions. David Luther, author and lecturer in this area of insurance reimbursement said there are a few hybrid policies that have a "Flex Plan" or "Master Medical" or so-called "Checkbook Account" for alternative medicine. His estimate is that these plans would be less than 1 percent of the insurance policies out there. "In these cases," he said, "the therapist provides the service, collects from you and gives you a receipt. You, in return, submit the service fee to the insurance company and get reimbursed by them." Luther said usually the treatment is not a required medical necessity, but is instead an elective choice afforded the client with a maximum allowed yearly expenditure. Usually that expenditure is around $500.
Oftentimes you can find reimbursement for massage when it's part of rehabilitation for auto accident or workmans' comp injuries.
For those who have the desire to push for greater coverages, there are options. "Become proactive. Educate your employers and push them to seek out forward-thinking insurance companies." These obscure Flex Plans or Checkbook Accounts are out there and employees deserve these benefits. Let your voice cry out for visionary health care programs, he said.