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INSURANCE Covered by Most Group Health Plans

Massage therapy coverage is a very popular health insurance benefit that is used regularly by many people.

Not surprising, considering how a massage feels great and is very relaxing!

But is massage therapy really a valid health insurance benefit? And how much coverage for registered massage therapists is actually provided by a typical health insurance plan?

Read on and we will explore these questions together.

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Massage therapy is simply the act of massaging with the purpose of facilitating wellness and healing in a patient.

When we refer to massage therapy in the context of insurance coverage we are always talking about massage performed by a registered massage therapist (i.e. a person who has studied and received accreditation for therapeutic massage).

Massage therapy is classified as a paramedical coverage, which also includes benefits for treatment by chiropractors, psychologists and physiotherapists (to name just a few).

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Massage therapy feels great and also has the following health benefits:

  • It has been found to be an effective treatment for back pain (especially for the lower back).1
  • It improves circulation of the massaged area as well as overall circulation in the body.
  • Massage therapy can be used to treat and prevent tension headaches.
  • It can be used to boost the immune system by increasing the white blood cell count in patients.2
  • It can help improve sleeping habits, especially patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer.
  • Massage therapy can improve joint mobility.
  • It can also reduce tension in the body, which has many negative health effects.

Massage therapy is widely used to treat both chronic ands acute medical conditions that can result from either an injury or illness.

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Provincial Healthcare Coverage for Massage Therapy

Provincial healthcare plans such as OHIP, AHCIP and MSI form the basis of the universal Canadian healthcare system.

These publicly funded healthcare plans provide coverage for medically necessary services only, however. As a result, most registered massage therapy is not covered by public healthcare.

The exception to this may be massage therapy that is received in a hospital and is deemed necessary to the recovery of a patient.

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Employee Benefits Coverage for Massage Therapy

There are two main types of private health insurance in Canada: employee benefits and individual health insurance plans.

Employee benefits are also called “group insurance”, and coverage is obtained through your employer. If you lose your job then you also lose your benefits coverage.

Massage therapy is just one of the coverages that come under what is called “paramedical” benefits. As mentioned previously, paramedical coverage consists of things such as chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage therapy, naturopaths and speech therapy.

The following summarizes employee benefits coverage for massage therapists:

  • Included as a paramedical coverage.
  • There is usually no “per visit” maximum (unlike a personal health insurance plan).
  • Coverage is limited by annual plan maximums that are applied to each type of paramedical coverage (e.g. one maximum per coverage type).
  • Most group plans require a referral from a doctor.
  • Annual coverage maximums range anywhere from $350 to $750 per year.
  • Generally speaking, employee benefit maximums are higher than maximums with individual health plans.
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Individual Health Insurance Coverage for Massage Therapy

Individual health insurance is also called “family health insurance” or “personal health insurance”. It is not obtained via an employer, rather, it is purchased on an individual basis.

Coverage remains in force for as long as the premiums are paid.

Similar to group insurance, individual health plans also categorize massage therapy as a paramedical coverage.

Unlike group insurance, individual plans usually have “per visit” maximums and some plans also have a maximum number of visits per year.

Per-visit maximums are usually around $20 per visit.

The following summarizes massage therapy coverage via personal health insurance plans:

  • Included as one of the paramedical coverages.
  • Coverage is limited by annual plan maximums (often applied to all paramedical services lumped together).
  • There is usually a maximum cost per visit.
  • There may be a maximum number of visits annually.
  • Most personal health plans require a doctor’s referral for massage therapy. The exception to this is Manulife’s Flexcare and FollowMe plans, which do not require a referral when you enter your 3rd year of coverage.


Check with your Human resources department to know if you have massage para medical coverage and if a doctor’s note is required and “How much your plan covers per treatment % and $ per claim.

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Why massage therapy is important

Health care options such as massage therapy have proved to be a viable and beneficial form of treatment for individuals with a variety of health ailments. More and more doctors are prescribing massage therapy to individuals with injuries, illnesses and chronic health conditions.
Massage therapy treatment from a registered massage therapist can treat health conditions such as back and neck pain, sports injuries, headaches, whiplash and many other common issues. It is also an effective form of treatment for other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, stress and even some diseases, such as cancer, stroke and arthritis. Massage therapy can be beneficial at any age.

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