Are Massages Covered by Health Insurance?

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by Samantha B.
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Massage therapy can be used to treat a variety of health issues including stress, muscle pain, and other medical conditions. With people turning to massages as medical treatment, it would make sense that health insurance would cover its costs. However, some insurance policies, like Original Medicare, do not cover massage therapy or have strict policies on coverage eligibility. Though finding coverage for massage therapy may be more difficult than other traditional treatments, it’s certainly not impossible. 

How Massage Therapy Helps You

Getting a massage is thought of as a luxury, but in the medical world, it’s become a valid form of treatment. Massage therapy helps improve blood circulation, relieve tension in the muscles, reduce stress and anxiety, and manage pain. It’s been used to treat stress-related conditions, such as headaches, insomnia, and anxiety, as well as physical conditions like nerve and joint pain, soft tissues sprains, and digestive disorders. Its benefits have validated it as a complementary and alternative medicine, which can be utilized alongside standard medical treatment and can be prescribed by doctors in the right circumstance. 

Costs of Massage Therapy

The cost of massage therapy is contingent on the masseuse, the time length of the massage, and the type of massage. A general rule of thumb is that massages are typically $1 per minute, with 30-minute massages being no less than $30, 60-minute massages being no less than $60, and so on. Below is a general list of costs, but keep in mind that prices will vary depending on where you get a massage.

  • Full Body Massage: $50-100 per hour
  • Deep Tissue Massage: $80-120 per hour
  • Swedish Massage: $50-90 per hour
  • Prenatal Massage: $70-120 per hour
  • Back Massage: $40-50 per hour
  • Sports Massage: $55-130 per hour

Guidelines For Massage Therapy Coverage

Insurance companies will only cover massage therapy if it’s considered a medical necessity. What may be medically necessary for some insurers may not be for others, so it’s important to check in with your health insurance provider about qualifications. The reason for your massage therapy has significant influence on whether or not your insurance company will provide coverage. It will only be seriously considered if you have a doctor’s prescription or referral.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a type of supplemental auto insurance that covers the medical treatment of injuries obtained in a car accident. PIP will cover the expenses that these treatments incur, including massage therapy. Not only will it work for recovery, but it’s effective in reducing emotional stress as well. 

Labor & Industries

Individuals who are injured at work are eligible for workers’ compensation to help pay for medical treatments. If you’re injured at work and need ongoing medical attention, an approved workers’ comp claim will cover massage therapy if prescribed by a medical official. Though workers’ comp covers massages, it’s likely that you will have a limited number of approved sessions. 

Tips To Gain Insurance Coverage For Massage Therapy

Coverage for massage therapy varies across insurance plans, but there are a handful of ways you can obtain coverage if it is, in fact, a medical necessity.

Contact Your Insurer

Before turning to massage therapy for medical treatment, contact your insurance company to find out how coverage works. It’s possible that several contingencies may affect how much coverage you receive for massage therapy, so asking about service coverage beforehand is essential. Some questions to ask are: Is there any out-pocket-cost? Is there a masseuse I can see within my network? Is there a limitation on how many massages I can get? Is coverage offered for all diagnoses? What types of massage qualify for coverage? 

Vocalize Your Need for Massage Therapy

Because massage therapy is considered a complementary and alternative medicine, doctors may not immediately turn to it as a solution to any medical problem. If you prefer to seek massage therapy for conditions that would otherwise be treated with standard medicine, vocalize that desire with your doctor. Depending on your circumstance, your doctor may be willing to write you a prescription for massage therapy that you can show to your insurance provider.

Ask for a General Prescription

Licensed massage therapists are required to adhere to the instructions of a prescription. If your doctor writes a prescription for a massage in one specific area, a masseuse will focus exclusively on that area of the body. A general prescription, written for general muscle pain, will allow them to adjust their treatment to your needs. This is helpful if you are experiencing pain in several areas at once or have multiple conditions that would be helped by massage therapy.

Ask for a number-less prescription

Along with being general, it’s best if a prescription does not specify the frequency or amount of massages that are required. A licensed massage therapist will determine those numbers upon your first visit, and may strongly recommend that you continue massage therapy after your prescription ends. You may find that a lifestyle habit is the cause of your pain, and want to continue seeing a masseuse beyond the dates your doctor prescribes. Additionally, having a prescription with a set number of visits may deter your insurance company from providing coverage after you’ve reached the maximum number.

Financing Massage Therapy Outside of Insurance Coverage

If you’re unable to obtain coverage through your insurance company, there are alternatives that could help you finance massage therapy treatment. Listed below are three options you may want to consider if you’re still looking for a way to pay for massage therapy. 

Health Savings Account

If your health insurance provider does not offer massage therapy coverage, you may be able to utilize your Health Savings Account (HSA) if you have one. If you can demonstrate massage therapy as a medical necessity, you may be able to cover the expenses with the money in your HSA. 


Getting discounts on massages may be easier than you think. Massage therapy schools will offer discounts on massages from students. If you’re comfortable receiving a massage from a less-experienced and unlicensed therapist, consider contacting a local massage school and asking about discounts.

Membership Plans

If you’re invested in the idea of getting regular massage therapy for medical treatments, try contacting a local massage service location and asking about membership opportunities. Signing up for a membership will cut your costs in the long run, and allow you to get massages on your own time and without a prescription or referral.


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