Massage and Insurance

Wouldn't it be lovely if insurance covered all forms of massage therapy, from the most intense Myofascial Release to the epitome of relaxing Swedish massage? Alas, such is not usually the case. While there are a few insurance programs that do cover massage therapy, even they are generally selective regarding the modalities for which they will agree to pay, opting to cover only those that have some perceived medical benefit, such myofascial or orthopedic. If you happen to desire a modality that is not in this list, you are seemingly out of luck.

This makes it challenging for many people to receive massage on a regular basis, as they may not need Myofascial Release or other medically-oriented massage treatments. They may simply desire massage for stress relief so that their stress-related conditions, such as high blood pressure, nervous anxiety, and tension headaches, become less severe. So what do you do if you are among the number of people who want to receive regular massage but don't think you can afford it without insurance helping out?

The first thing to do is to actually contact your insurance provider and see if they cover massage therapy, and if they do, to determine what specific styles they will cover. Ask them to send you a list, if it will help. You never know what they might cover until you ask them about it. If you have a plan such as a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), then your options might be even more open than those with traditional insurance plans. Therapists who can accept your FSA/HSA cards will be able to accommodate your massage preferences more easily than those who have to send in billing to the insurance companies, since they generally do not have to specify the treatment they administered to you, allowing more flexibility with the kind of massage you can receive.

Another less conventional idea is to barter with your massage therapist. Do you do professional photography services? Offer to do a photo shoot of your therapist's building and massage room, maybe with a few shots of them working on someone, in exchange for a certain number of sessions. You could even work out a deal for additional sessions if you complete professional editing of the photos you took. Do you have a laundry service? Massage therapists are always looking for ways to cut down on the extra work that we have to do so that we can focus more on our clients! Offer to complete a certain number of loads for a session or two. Trust me, we're not going to run out of laundry anytime soon, so that should be fairly easy to arrange. Are you a marketing specialist? Offer to run several promotions or help design new business cards and social media materials in exchange for massage services. If you are a music or voice teacher and happen to learn that your therapist has a passion for those same things, offer to exchange massage for lessons. There is a world of possibilities when it comes to bartering with your therapist, so be creative!

If none of these avenues works for you – your insurance doesn't cover massage, you don't have an FSA or HSA account, and your therapist is already doing so much bartering that they just can't do any more without severely reducing their income from their other clients– then start trying to get your insurance to cover massage therapy. Find as many other people with the same insurance plan or policy who also wish they could receive massage therapy (social media is great for this sort of thing), and have everyone sign a petition. Accompany it with facts regarding how massage therapy is one of the most excellent preventive treatments out there, and you may just get someone's attention. After all, if the insurance company doesn't have to pay for astronomically expensive medication or surgery because their policy holders are receiving much less expensive preventive care, they should be all for that! And remember the old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try try again." You may not get a favorable response the first time or even the second or third time, but with enough persistence, the insurance company is bound to take a look at massage therapy if enough people make it evident that they want it covered.