Health Insurance and Alternative Medicines


If you have a chronic illness that’s not responding quickly to traditional treatment methods, or you have an aversion to conventional medicine, then you may be interested in the healing benefits of alternative and complementary medicine. Before you choose this kind of treatment, though, it’s important to understand what your insurance policy may or may not cover.

What is Alternative and Complementary Medicine?

Procedures such as massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, certain diets, and homeopathy all fall into the category of alternative and complementary medicine. When trying to determine if a treatment you are considering falls under this heading, it’s important to determine whether it is sometimes used in conjunction with conventional medical procedures (making it complementary) or is not (making it alternative).

What does Your Policy Cover?

Every health insurance policy is different, so the best way to answer this question is to call your agent or read the policy document itself. In most instances, policies—whether group or individual—will restrict coverage to conventional treatments and will occasionally cover some complementary therapies.

The reason for this limitation is that your insurance company wants to help you afford those treatments which have been proven to improve the health of others in your situation. Alternative and complementary treatments are often unstudied and have little or no clinical evidence of success.

Alternative Medicines, Co-Insurance and Deductibles

If you decide to have alternative treatment or medicines that are not covered under your insurance policy then the bills that you pay for them will not contribute toward satisfying your deductible. In addition, there would be no in or out-of-network co-insurance coverage, even if they are performed by a medical professional whose conventional medical services would be covered.

If you find that a particular alternative treatment is covered by your insurer, make sure that the provider accepts your insurance and that you go through all the normal channels for the charge so that it does count toward your deductible. Give your agent a call to find out exactly what you should expect regarding the claims process.

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