What is Alternative Medicine?
Alternative medicine is described as medical practices and techniques that are used in place of conventional medicine. These practices most commonly include massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic services.
Complementary medicine is used in supplement with conventional medicine, generally as a recommendation by a health care provider. For example, for a patient suffering from chronic headaches, a physician may recommend acupuncture in addition to prescription medication. Typically, complementary medicine is more likely to be approved by a health insurance carrier over alternative medicine because it is “prescribed” by a doctor.
Insurance Coverage for Alternative Medicine
Certain health insurance plans may offer coverage for limited alternative medicine treatments. Typically, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic services are the most common type of alternative medicine covered by health care plans. However, for the most part, costs for alternative treatments must be paid out of pocket. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, alternative medicine accounts for 11.2% of all out-of-pocket medical expenditures in the United States.
As alternative and complementary medicine become more widely adopted methods of treatment in the United States, more health insurance carriers will cover these types of treatments in their plans. It is worth discussing with your health insurance providers whether alternative medicine is covered, especially if it is recommended by a doctor.