It was not that long ago that people would ask if acupuncture was covered and there was a resounding "no".
An ongoing trend is that acupuncture coverage is becoming more commonplace with California health insurance plans.
In general, health plans have slowly moved towards covering more preventative health care and alternative health care costs.
When you run a California health insurance quote (individual/family including Covered Ca or Employer Sponsored Health plans), you will see acupuncture care broken out from office visit copays and usually, it is listed separately by itself.
You can click on "Benefit Details" for the specific benefit.
You may have to click on
the plan name to access the
brochure for more detail on
how the plan treats
Since the underlying issues that require acupuncture care are typically more chronic in nature (last long periods of time if not indefinitely), there may be caps on the number of covered benefits in a given year. The cap can be more than for chiropractic but there may not be the ability to get authorized for more visits.
1. Number of office visits
Many plans cap the number of office visit copays per calendar year to a few visits. First, see if the acupuncture visit is part of the normal office copay visits and secondly, double-check how many you may receive.
2. Provider networks
Many practioners do not participate in health carrier networks which means much more out of pocket (for PPO) or no benefit when seeing these providers.
Double check the California doctor lookup and try to stay in network for the best benefits.
On the Small Group market, some health plans offer Acupuncture riders which add additional or better acupuncture benefits.
A "rider" is a like a side insurance plan added to the main medical plan. The "rider" can cover acupuncture, chiropractic, cancer, infertility, or a specific medical benefit that traditionally is not covered or has limited benefits compared to the core medical plan coverage.
For further reference, an
explanation of Chiropractic
as described by Health360
through Anthem Blue Cross
Medical review: 2003
Contributing Author: Cherri Straus, MPH
Acupuncture, which originated in China 2500 years ago, is one of the oldest, most commonly practiced medical procedures in the world. Acupuncture became widely known in the U.S. in the 1970s and by 1995, there were over 10,000 nationally certified acupuncturists practicing in this country with the number expected to double in the year 2000.
The Food and Drug Administration approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1997. Currently, one-third of acupuncturists are medical physicians.
acupuncturists practice more
medicine and must meet
licensing and certification
requirements. The National
Institutes of Health has
termed acupuncture “an
acceptable alternative, or
part of a comprehensive
treatment program” for
certain medical conditions.
Acupuncture involves stimulation at specific points on the body by puncturing the skin with sterilized, flexible, very fine needles. These points on the body are believed to stimulate the central nervous system to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals can help reduce pain and inflammation, and may also trigger the release of other chemicals to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. The Chinese call this restoring one’s “qi” (pronounced chee) which is translated as one’s “energy flow”.
Variations of traditional
Moxibustion – the process of
burning dried herbs on top
of the needles for treating
certain health conditions,
and Electro-acupuncture –
when the needle points are
Acupuncture practitioners will usually discuss your complete medical, personal, and family history with you in great detail in order to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs and personal behaviors that may contribute to your condition. It is important that you tell the practitioner if you are pregnant, have breast or other implants, have a pacemaker, and what medications and other treatments you are currently taking. In some cases there may be bruising or irritation after the treatment, but the procedure itself produces minimal pain since the needles are hair-thin and hollow.
Lifestyle, age, and physical factors combine to make every person different and you should not rely on stories and hearsay about acupuncture to influence your decisions about healthcare. A treatment that works for one person may not work for another person, even with the same condition. Ask your physician or call the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (800)-521-2262 for referrals to licensed acupuncturists Check with your benefits administrator regarding coverage for acupuncture under your health plan.
This information is
provided for educational
purposes only and is not a
substitute for sound medical
judgment. If you have any
questions or concerns, you
should discuss them with
Call us at 800-320-6269 with any questions. Our services are free to you as licensed health agents.
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