"Hi, do you take MassHealth?" "Does MassHealth cover Acupuncture?"
These are questions we get allll the time here in clinic, and we usually have to go through a lot of back and forth to help patients understand their benefits. The short answer is, yes and no.
"MassHealth" is a term that many people use interchangeably for the insurance plans offered through the MA Health Connector, such as Allways, Tufts, BMC Health Net, and Neighborhood Health Plan. Many of those plans actually DO have some coverage for acupuncture, which is wonderful. Insurance coverage for acupuncture can vary widely between plans, even though they might be through the same company, so we have to verify each individual's policy prior to starting treatment.
Unfortunately, in Massachusetts, Medicare and Medicaid do NOT cover acupuncture at all. MassHealth Standard (the blue card) says it covers acupuncture, but the way the policy is written, they will only pay medical doctors for it. Even though the policy covers acupuncture, does not require a referral, and by MA law, acupuncture can be performed by a Licensed Acupuncturist without MD supervision, they will not pay an acupuncturist for acupuncture. There are various groups who have been working to change this for years now, but so far, no luck. For these patients, we typically try to refer them to a hospital based acupuncture program that might be funded by philanthropy, and therefore lower cost.
It's a sad reality that the healthcare system has become driven by the almighty dollar. Premiums and deductibles are at an all time high, while fewer and fewer services are covered. It's now more important than ever to invest in your own health and wellness, to prevent catastrophic illness and chronic pain in the future! We remain committed to being one of the few acupuncturists in the Boston area who take insurance, but it's such a shame that MassHealth Standard patients can't access their benefits!
Allison Blaisdell, MSTOM, Lic.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice at Maverick Wellness in Quincy, and also at Massachusetts General Hospital. She offers Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Nutritional Response Testing, and Frequency Specific Microcurrent, as well as online holistic health coaching and consultation. Her mission is to educate and empower her patients to achieve their best possible health.