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Does Obamacare cover acupuncture?

To sum it up...
  • Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, is a piece of legislation that extended health insurance coverage to millions of United States citizens
  • There are many types of alternative medicine offered in today’s world including acupuncture, chiropractic, electrical muscle stimulation, biofeedback, and music therapy
  • Certain forms of alternative medicine are covered under the Affordable Care Act; however, this provisions is implemented differently from state to state
  • Many states cover acupuncture under the Affordable Care Act
  • Since each state is able to implement this provision as it sees fit, it is best to consult with a licensed insurance agent regarding your concerns

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed by the 111th Congress of the United States and Signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 11th, 2010.

The Affordable Care Act extended health insurance coverage to millions of citizens in the United States. The result being the lowest percentage of uninsured individuals in the history of the country in the following years.

The Affordable Care Act has many provisions that affect the way health insurance is provided to those covered under a plan within the Act. One of these provisions is the elimination of pre-existing conditions.

Health insurance providers can no longer deny coverage to an individual based on prior health conditions or illnesses they have been diagnosed with.

Another provision allows children to be covered under their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26. This allows young adults trying to earn a college degree the opportunity to be covered under a health insurance plan.

Many young adults weren’t covered under a plan, as they would often wait until they could be covered under an employer offered group health insurance plan.

The Affordable Care Act also stipulates the types of medical care that health insurance providers are required to offer. One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance companies not discriminate, with regards to reimbursement, between

One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act requires that health insurance companies not discriminate, with regards to reimbursement, between licensed healthcare providers. This means that providers of alternative medicine may also be covered under a plan.

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Types of Alternative Medicine

There are many forms of alternative medicine practiced by millions of healthcare providers around the world. Alternative medicine is considered to be any type of healing practice that is not included in the standard practice of medical curricula.

In other words, a treatment that you receive from a traditional doctor would probably be considered standard medical practice; however, more and more medical schools are including alternative medical practices in their teachings.

– Acupuncture

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Acupuncture is an extremely old practice that originated in China around 100 B.C. The practice is still part of traditional Chinese medicine today.

The ancient Chinese believed that this treatment, in which tiny needles are inserted through the skin, was a way to rebalance energy, also known as qi, through the body.

Today many medical professionals still believe that acupuncture is effective, but for a much different reason. The insertion of needles through the skin may help to stimulate the bodies nervous system. This causes the body to create more natural painkillers.

– Chiropractic

Chiropractic is a medical profession that focuses on the relationship between health, wellness, and the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine.

The ancient Greeks incorporated spinal manipulation into their health practices thousands of years before chiropractics came into existence.

Chiropractors manipulate the spine to treat patients for a myriad of problems. The primary reason that most people seek treatment from a chiropractor is lower back pain; however, chiropractic manipulations can also be used to treat headaches, neck pain, and pain in the extremities.

– Electrical Muscle Stimulation

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Electrical muscle stimulation is a fairly new form of alternative medicine; however, it has been proven useful to medical professionals. Electrical muscle stimulation utilizes electrical impulses to contract the muscular fibers of a specific muscle group.

This has been a useful way to test muscle function in spinal cord injury patients. A medical professional, typically a physical therapist, connects the patient to an electrical muscle stimulation machine via electrodes.

These electrodes then deliver an electrical pulse to a muscle group. The therapist can then determine if the muscle group and coinciding nerves are functioning properly. This can also help neural pathways reconnect in a spinal cord patient.

– Biofeedback

Biofeedback therapy began in the early 1970’s. The goal of biofeedback therapy is to control functions of the body that are otherwise involuntary.

Heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, pain reception, urinary function, and bowel function are all involuntarily controlled by our nervous system and the smooth muscle cells of our body.

Biofeedback therapy uses electrodes attached to your skin to monitor different bodily functions. Heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure are monitored during biofeedback.

This allows the patient to see how their body reacts under stress, and which techniques are effective at relieving stress.

Biofeedback is used to treat more than just stress. It can also be used to treat bowel and bladder incontinence in patients.

– Music Therapy

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Music therapists utilize music to improve the lives of their clients. Music therapy can be used to treat the cognitive, physical, emotional, and psychological problems of individuals. Musical therapists must have a bachelor’s degree to become credentialed.

Music therapists can use techniques like singing, instrumental performance, musical discussion, or movement to music to treat their patients. Many musical therapists treat patients wishing for returned motor function.

Music therapy has been used to treat a long list of diagnoses including heart conditions, neurological conditions, stroke, dementia, amnesia, schizophrenia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other behavioral and emotional issues.

Are forms of alternative medicine covered under the Affordable Care Act?

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Does Obamacare, or the Affordable Healthcare Act, cover alternative forms of medicine? The answer is yes and no. It definitely allows for insurance providers to cover alternative medicine treatments; however, it doesn’t require them to offer all forms of alternative medicine.

Only alternative medicine providers giving treatments that have been proven effective must be reimbursed under the following provision:

”A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law.” – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Section 2706

The way this law reads, though, implementation of the law is left to each state. Many states require insurance providers to cover forms of alternative medicine that are relevant to a diagnosis, but some states only require the minimum amount of coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Acupuncture is considered a proven technique and is covered under the Affordable Care Act in most states.

Discuss Your Coverage With Your Insurance Agent

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You should contact your local insurance agent regarding which plan is the best fit for you. Health insurance providers vary from state to state and offer a variety of plans. A licensed insurance agent will be able to discuss the types of coverage for alternative medical treatments, like acupuncture, that are offered in your state.

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