Sign up for AARP's monthly Money Matters newsletter to help manage your finances with confidence.
En español | No, with one exception.
Medicare Part B covers acupuncture only for enrollees with chronic lower back pain. If you’ve experienced low back pain for at least 12 weeks and the pain is not associated with another cause, such as cancer that has spread, inflammatory or infectious disease, surgery or pregnancy, you’re entitled to 12 acupuncture sessions within a 90-day period.
Medicare may pay for up to eight additional sessions if your pain decreases as a result of acupuncture, but it sets a maximum at 20 sessions a year. If your chronic back pain doesn’t improve with acupuncture during the first 12 visits, Medicare won’t cover additional treatments.
Acupuncture involves stimulating the central nervous system through specific points on the body, usually by inserting needles into the skin and using gentle movements to alleviate pain. Until January 2020, Medicare didn’t cover acupuncture under any circumstances. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services changed the rules in part to offer an alternative to opioids for lower back pain.
But this condition is the only exception. Medicare also won’t cover most other forms of alternative medicine with the exception of chiropractic care for medically necessary spinal manipulation.
To qualify for coverage, the acupuncture must be administered by a doctor or other health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, who meet both of these criteria:
After you’ve met your annual Medicare Part B deductible, which is $233 in 2022 (and $226 in 2023), you’ll pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the eligible acupuncture sessions.
You can buy a private Medicare supplemental policy to help cover Medicare’s deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. All Medigap policies cover the 20 percent Part B coinsurance in part or full.
If you have a private Medicare Advantage plan, rather than original Medicare, you may have broader coverage for acupuncture. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover acupuncture for pain in other parts of the body in addition to the lower back.
Ask your plan about its rules for acupuncture coverage. You may have a copayment for each visit, such as $20 a visit, and you may need to see a provider in your plan’s network.
Updated October 5, 2022
Return to Medicare Q&A main page
Find the content you are looking for by entering in search terms below.
What is Medicare?
New in 2022
What’s Not Covered
Reasons to Change Coverage
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at