Can Massage Be Covered By Insurance? What You Need To Know

Navigating the world of insurance coverage can feel like a maze, especially when it comes to understanding if your policy covers services like massage therapy. But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this journey. We’re here to help you unravel the complexities and provide clear, easy-to-understand information.

Key Facts At a Glance

  • Insurance coverage for massage therapy varies widely and is often dependent on the individual policy.
  • Massage therapy may be covered if it’s considered medically necessary or part of a habilitative treatment.
  • A referral from a primary care physician can increase the chances of coverage.
  • Understanding CPT codes for massage therapy can help when discussing coverage with your insurance provider.
  • If massage therapy isn’t covered, there are alternative payment options available, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs).

Now, let’s dive deeper into the topic. Whether you’re considering massage therapy for the first time, or you’re a seasoned pro looking to understand your insurance coverage better, this article is for you.

 We’ll explore what massage therapy is, why it’s often viewed differently by insurance companies, and how you can increase your chances of getting your massage therapy covered.

So, sit back, relax, and let’s unravel the mystery of insurance coverage for massage therapy together.

What is Massage Therapy?

Let’s start at the beginning. Massage therapy is a broad term that encompasses a variety of techniques and styles, all designed to relax muscles, relieve tension, improve circulation, and promote overall wellness.

But there’s more to it than just relaxation and stress relief.

Here are a few types of massage therapy you might have heard of:

But there’s a special type of massage therapy we need to talk about when it comes to insurance coverage: medical massage therapy.

Unlike general massage therapy, which is often used for relaxation and stress relief, medical massage therapy is used as part of a treatment plan for specific medical conditions.

 It’s this type of massage that is most likely to be covered by insurance, but as we’ll see, it’s not always that straightforward…

Understanding Insurance Coverage for Massage Therapy

So, you’re probably wondering, “Why isn’t massage therapy always covered by insurance?” It’s a great question, and the answer lies in the way insurance companies view massage therapy.

In the eyes of many insurance providers, massage therapy is often seen as a luxury or a form of relaxation, rather than a necessary medical treatment.

However, this perspective is slowly changing as more and more studies highlight the health benefits of massage therapy.

Here are some key factors that insurance companies consider when determining if massage therapy can be covered:

  • Medical Necessity: Is the massage therapy being used to treat a specific medical condition or injury? If so, it’s more likely to be covered.
  • Referral or Prescription: A referral or prescription from a primary care physician or specialist can significantly increase the chances of coverage.
  • Therapist’s Qualifications: The qualifications and credentials of the massage therapist can also play a role. Therapists with specific medical massage training or certification are more likely to be recognized by insurance companies.
  • Policy Details: Each insurance policy is different. Some may cover massage therapy under certain conditions, while others may not cover it at all.

Understanding these factors can help you navigate your insurance policy and increase your chances of getting your massage therapy covered.

But remember, every insurance plan is different, so it’s essential to check with your provider for the specifics of your coverage.

Let’s explore this further in the next section.

Why Doesn’t Insurance Always Cover Massage Therapy?

You might be thinking, “If massage therapy has so many health benefits, why isn’t it always covered by insurance?” It’s a fair question – and the answer lies in the complex world of healthcare and insurance policies.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that insurance companies often categorize massage therapy as an ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ treatment. This means it’s often seen as an addition to traditional medical treatments, rather than a standalone therapy.

Here are a few reasons why insurance doesn’t always cover massage therapy:

  • Lack of Standardization: Unlike many medical treatments, massage therapy doesn’t have a standardized treatment protocol. This means two therapists might approach the same condition in very different ways, making it harder for insurance companies to assess its effectiveness.
  • Difficulty Proving Medical Necessity: It can be challenging to prove that a massage is medically necessary, rather than just beneficial or relaxing.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Insurance companies often perform a cost-benefit analysis. If the cost of the massage therapy outweighs the potential benefits (in their view), they may choose not to cover it.

While these challenges exist, it’s not all doom and gloom.

There are ways to increase the likelihood of your massage therapy being covered by insurance, which we’ll explore in the next section.

So, stick with us as we continue to unravel the mystery of insurance coverage for massage therapy.

How to Increase the Chances of Getting Massage Therapy Covered by Insurance

Feeling a bit discouraged? Don’t be! While it’s true that getting insurance coverage for massage therapy can be a bit of a challenge, there are steps you can take to increase your chances.

Let’s explore some strategies that can help you navigate the insurance maze.

  • Get a Referral: A referral from a primary care physician or a specialist can go a long way in proving the medical necessity of massage therapy. If your doctor agrees that massage could be beneficial for your condition, ask them to write a referral or prescription.
  • Understand Your Policy: Take the time to read through your insurance policy or speak with a representative to understand what is and isn’t covered. Some policies may cover massage therapy under certain conditions, such as after an accident or surgery.
  • Provider Credentialing: Seek out a massage therapist who is credentialed with insurance companies. These therapists have met certain standards and are more likely to be covered by insurance.
  • Pre-Authorization: Some insurance companies require pre-authorization for massage therapy. This means getting approval from the insurance company before starting treatment.
  • Keep Good Records: Keep a record of your massage therapy sessions, including dates, what was done, and how it has helped your condition. This can be useful if you need to prove the medical necessity of the therapy.

But by understanding the system and advocating for yourself, you can increase your chances of getting your massage therapy covered.

Up next, we’ll delve into the world of CPT codes and their role in insurance coverage for massage therapy. 

Understanding CPT Codes for Massage Therapy

If you’re new to the world of insurance, the term “CPT codes” might sound like a foreign language. But don’t worry, we’re here to translate. CPT codes, or Current Procedural Terminology codes, are used by medical providers to classify and bill for services.

When it comes to massage therapy, understanding these codes can be a game-changer.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two main billing CPT codes identified for insurance billing of massage therapy:

  • 97124: This code is used for a general therapeutic massage. It includes kneading and stretching of muscles and connective tissues, usually performed for relaxation and stress relief.
  • 97140: This code is used for manual therapy techniques, such as mobilization/manipulation, manual lymphatic drainage, or manual traction. These techniques are often used to treat specific conditions or injuries.

So, why are these codes important? Well, when your massage therapist submits a claim to your insurance company, they’ll use these codes to indicate what type of massage was performed.

The insurance company will then use these codes to determine if the service is covered under your policy.

Remember, just because a service has a CPT code doesn’t automatically mean it will be covered by your insurance. Coverage depends on your specific policy and the details of your treatment.

But understanding these codes can help you have more informed discussions with both your massage therapist and your insurance provider.

Up next, we’ll explore what to do if your massage therapy services are not covered by insurance.

Don’t lose hope, there are still options available!

What to Do If Services Are Not Covered

So, you’ve done your research, talked to your insurance provider, and found out that your massage therapy isn’t covered.

It’s a bummer, we know.

But don’t pack away your spa robe just yet.

There are still options available to you:

  • Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA): These accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for healthcare expenses not covered by insurance, including massage therapy. Check with your employer to see if these options are available to you.
  • Package Deals: Some massage therapists or clinics offer package deals, where you can purchase multiple sessions at once for a discounted rate. This can be a cost-effective way to continue your therapy.
  • Superbill: A superbill is a detailed receipt of the services provided, which you can submit to your insurance company for potential reimbursement. Not all insurance companies accept superbills, but it’s worth asking your massage therapist if they can provide one.
  • Affiliate with an Insurance Company: Some massage therapists affiliate with insurance companies to offer services at a discounted rate. Ask your therapist if they have any affiliations.

While it’s disappointing when insurance doesn’t cover massage therapy, remember that your health and well-being are worth investing in.

And who knows? As more research emerges about the benefits of massage therapy, we may see more insurance companies expanding their coverage to include it.

In our final section, we’ll wrap up everything we’ve learned and leave you with some final thoughts


We’ve journeyed through the complex world of insurance coverage for massage therapy together, and we hope you’re walking away with a clearer understanding of the landscape.

Let’s recap what we’ve learned:

  • Massage therapy can be a powerful tool for health and wellness, but its coverage under insurance policies can vary widely.
  • Medical necessity, a referral from a physician, the qualifications of the therapist, and the specifics of your insurance policy all play a role in determining coverage.
  • Understanding CPT codes can help you navigate discussions with your insurance provider and massage therapist.
  • If your insurance doesn’t cover massage therapy, alternatives like HSAs, FSAs, package deals, superbills, and affiliations can help make therapy more affordable.

Remember, every insurance policy is different, and the world of healthcare coverage can be complex.

But with knowledge and persistence, you can navigate the system and advocate for your health.

We hope this guide has been helpful in your journey to understanding insurance coverage for massage therapy.

Remember, your health is worth it, and you deserve to get the most out of your insurance coverage.

Keep asking questions, keep exploring your options, and most importantly, keep taking care of yourself!


  1. American Massage Therapy Association: An article discussing insurance reimbursement for massage therapy.
  2. Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University: A post from a reputable medical center providing insights into how to get medical insurance to cover massage therapy.
  3. Mayo Clinic: An article from Mayo Clinic discussing the benefits of massage.
  4. American Academy of Family Physicians: An article discussing the role of massage therapy in the treatment of various conditions.

Please note that while these sources provide valuable information, it’s always best to consult with your insurance provider for the specifics of your coverage.

Q: Can a massage therapist and the treatments they provide be covered by health insurance?

A: Yes, it is possible for a massage therapist’s services to be covered by health insurance. However, it depends on the specific plan and if the insurance company recognizes massage therapy as a legitimate treatment for specific conditions like back pain.

Q: How can I get my massage therapy insurance coverage?

A: To determine whether your health insurance plan offers massage therapy coverage, review your insurance policy or reach out to your insurance provider. Be sure to ask about their specific policies, including the required documentation, if they need a physician’s prescription for massage, or if there are limitations on the type of massage therapy covered.

Q: What type of massage therapy is typically covered by insurance?

A: Insurance coverage for massage therapy usually focuses on medical massage prescribed by a physician for specific health conditions such as chronic pain or injuries. Traditional relaxation massages and bodywork often won’t be covered by insurance plans.

Q: How can I find a massage therapist that accepts insurance?

A: To find a massage therapist who accepts insurance, ask your insurance company for a list of approved providers, or ask your primary care physician for a referral. Additionally, contact local massage therapists and ask whether they accept your insurance and if they have experience handling insurance claims.

Q: Can I get my massage therapy covered without a prescription from a doctor?

A: It depends on the specific insurance company and policy. Some insurance companies cover massage therapy without a prescription, while others may require a doctor’s prescription for coverage. Always check with your insurance provider to confirm their requirements for coverage.

Q: What questions should I ask my insurance company regarding massage therapy coverage?

A: Some important questions to ask your insurance company include: 1. Does my policy cover massage therapy? 2. Are there specific types of massage therapy that are covered/not covered? 3. Do I need a prescription from a physician to receive coverage? 4. Are there limits on the number of massage sessions covered per year? 5. Is there a copay or deductible for massage therapy services?

Q: Will my insurance cover the entire cost of my massage treatment?

A: Coverage for massage therapy can vary between insurance providers and individual plans. Some insurance companies may cover the full cost of a massage treatment, while others may only cover a portion of the cost, leaving you responsible for any remaining balance. Be sure to ask your insurance provider what percentage of the cost they cover and if there are any copayments or deductibles involved.

Q: Can I use my insurance to pay for massage therapy for relaxation purposes?

A: Most insurance companies do not cover massage therapy for relaxation purposes, as it is not considered medically necessary. However, some plans may offer limited coverage for specific types of massage, such as Swedish or deep tissue, if they are prescribed by a physician for a recognized health condition.

Q: How do I submit a claim for reimbursement for a massage therapist appointment?

A: To submit a claim for reimbursement, contact your insurance provider for guidance on their specific claim submission process. This may involve providing documentation, such as an itemized receipt from the massage therapist, a physician’s prescription, or a letter of medical necessity, among other requirements.

Q: Can I use a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay for massage therapy?

A: Yes, you can typically use funds from a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay for massage therapy if it is deemed medically necessary and prescribed by a physician. Check with your specific FSA or HSA provider to confirm eligibility and any documentation requirements.