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Why is Massage therapy not covered by health insurance in ALL states yet?

I was just looking for a better way to start communicating with other massage therapists on this topic... and thought about a bulletin board and remembered this forum.  I am surprised but happy to see a few people still on here posting.

Why is massage not covered by health insurance in your state yet?

With the OPIOID epidemic in the news everyday - why is massage therapy not yet the main answer to pain issues?

Don't tell me it is education or the lack of it....that may be one small part of it.

WA State has been billing health insurance for over 20 years because of a law that was created called theEvery Category Law that states:


Every category of health care providers.

(1) Issuers must not exclude any category of providers licensed by the state of Washington who provide health care services or care within the scope of their practice for services covered as essential health benefits, as defined in WAC 284-43-5640 and 284-43-5642 and RCW 48.43.715, for individual and small group plans; and as covered by the basic health plan, as defined in RCW 48.43.005(4), for plans other than individual and small group.
For individual and small group plans, the issuer must not exclude a category of provider who is licensed to provide services for a covered condition, and is acting within the scope of practice, unless such services would not meet the issuer's standards pursuant to RCW 48.43.045 (1)(a). For example, if the issuer covers outpatient treatment of lower back pain as part of the essential health benefits, any category of provider that provides cost-effective and clinically efficacious outpatient treatment for lower back pain within its scope of practice and otherwise abides by standards pursuant to RCW 48.43.045 (1)(a) must not be excluded from the network.
(2) RCW 48.43.045 (1)(a) permits issuers to require providers to abide by certain standards. These standards may not be used in a manner designed to exclude categories of providers unreasonably. For example, issuers must not decide that a particular category of provider can never render any cost-effective or clinically efficacious services and thereby exclude that category of provider completely from health plans on that basis.
(3) Health plans are not prohibited by this section from placing reasonable limits on individual services rendered by specific categories of providers based on relevant information or evidence of the type usually considered and relied upon in making determinations of cost-effectiveness or clinical efficacy. However, health plans must not contain unreasonable limits, and must not include limits on the type of provider permitted to render the covered service unless such limits comply with RCW 48.43.045 (1)(a).
(4) This section does not prohibit health plans from using restricted networks. Issuers offering plans with restricted networks may select the individual providers in any category of provider with whom they will contract or whom they will reimburse. An issuer is not required by RCW 48.43.045 or this section to accede to a request by any individual provider for inclusion in any network for any health plan.
(a) Health plan networks that use "gatekeepers" or "medical homes" for access to specialist providers may use them for access to specified categories of providers.
(b) For purposes of this section:
(i) "Gatekeeper" means requiring a referral from a primary care or direct access provider or practitioner to access specialty or in-patient services.
(ii) "Medical home" means a team based health care delivery model for patient centered primary care that provides comprehensive and continuous medical care to patients with the goal of obtaining maximized health outcomes as modified and updated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA), and other state and federal agencies.
(5) Issuers must not offer coverage for health services for certain categories of providers solely as a separately priced optional benefit.
(6) The insurance commissioner may grant reasonable temporary extensions of time for implementation of RCW 48.43.045 or this section, or any part thereof, for good cause shown.
Just take this to your State's Insurance commissioner and have them follow!
Report back here!

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Comment by Atozen Therapies on September 9, 2019 at 11:05pm

Thanks for sharing this information!!

Comment by Gordon J. Wallis on May 5, 2019 at 1:25pm

As a side note. The VA sent representatives to our clinic(pain clinic) saying that they will not pay for opioids as in the past for our patients.  And that other alternatives to opioids must be utilized.   I work in that pain clinic.  Yet the VA will not cover massage or manual therapy. 

Our license is weak.  

Comment by Gordon J. Wallis on May 5, 2019 at 1:05pm

I work in a medical clinic with medical doctors.  State laws really don’t mean very much.  It’s insurance company policy and individual insurance plans that matter.  And somehow the Chiropractors have a major controlling factor as well.  

Many times there have been patients that would benefit from seeing me.  Only to have their insurance company tell them that they will only pay for a massage if it’s done in a chiropractic clinic or only on the same day as a chiropractic adjustment, or that they will only cover it if the massage is done by a medical doctor, Osteopathic physician, physical therapist, or an occupational therapist.  

Alaska is recently a licensed state.  For me personally.. All that means is a lot more money out of pocket for huge licensing fees and expensive none helpful continuing education costs.  Insurance companies could care less about a massage license. 

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