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Services Not Covered by Medicare

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You probably aren’t surprised to know that you can’t get a face-lift or a tummy tuck from Medicare at taxpayer expense. Surgery solely for cosmetic purposes is one of the absolute no-nos of Medicare coverage. (Medicare does cover bariatric surgery to reduce the size of the stomach in very obese people, but this procedure is to lessen their risk of serious health disorders and not to improve their looks.)

Acupuncture and other alternative medical practices are barred under traditional Medicare. Physical fitness classes and gym memberships are also excluded. But some of these services (notably gym memberships) are covered as extras in some Medicare Advantage plans.

Even something as relatively mainstream as chiropractic care may be excluded from Medicare coverage in many circumstances. Chiropractics helps lessen the pain of spine and joint problems, most often by the manipulation of bones.

Medicare covers manipulative treatment from a licensed chiropractic physician when you’re injured or in pain because of a problem with the spine and provided that the treatment is clearly improving your condition.

But Medicare doesn’t pay for the manipulation of other joints (such as shoulders and knees) or for other types of chiropractic care such as massage or traction. And it doesn’t pay for maintenance care to keep you stable if you aren’t demonstrably improving.

Finally, in the hospital, Medicare doesn’t cover a private room (unless sharing one would be medically inadvisable), private nursing, or conveniences like a telephone or television if these items are billed separately.

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