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Massage Therapy Coverage – What You Should Know

Benefits, Claims, Health

Massage Therapy – I’m sure we have all heard these words spoken before. But what is it? Massage therapy is a part of integrative medicine where a trained, registered medical professional manipulates the body’s soft tissues. If you’ve ever suffered from sports injuries, back, shoulder and neck pain, whiplash or even headaches, massage therapy just might be the treatment for you. Nonetheless, you may wonder – does my benefits plan cover massage therapy, or do I have to pay out of pocket? Here is all you need to know, and more.

Understanding your massage coverage

So, you’ve put a lot of thought into it, and have finally decided you want to try massage therapy. Yet, the question still stands, is it eligible under your coverage? To be frank, your plan only covers massage treatments for therapeutic purposes provided by a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). It does not cover unregulated massages or “other services” for non-therapeutic purposes. Therefore, if your idea was to spend a weekend away alleviating your daily stresses sipping tea in a classy spa, chances are you might need to look elsewhere. What should you know about your coverage?

  • British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Ontario are the only provinces that currently regulate Massage Therapy. In all other provinces, professional associations have established the standards of practice for their industry.
  • Massage Therapists must be registered in their province
  • We only cover massage services provided in Canada
  • For coverage to apply, you cannot be related to or living at the same address as your practitioner

How does The Co-operators determine who is a qualified massage therapist?

Provincially regulated massage therapy means that therapists must meet strict requirements to become licensed and registered members of the provincial association. Additionally, services that a qualified practitioner provides are eligible for coverage under the Massage Therapy benefit. This is included in your Extended Health Care plan.

In unregulated provinces, there are many associations that massage therapists can be members of, each with their own membership criteria. The Co-operators assesses the requirements of each association in non-regulated provinces based on the requirements set for regulated provinces, which currently include 2200 hours of formal education and training.

Services provided from massage therapists who are members of an association that does not meet the same criteria as a regulated province may not be eligible for reimbursement.

I live in an unregulated province; how do I know if my massage therapist is approved?

When searching for a massage therapist, be an informed consumer, and do your research! Find out about your practitioner’s training and educational background. Learn their registered association. Moreover, remember to request references. By doing so you can gain a better perspective on whether they are truly an approved practitioner or not.

If in doubt, contact our Group Client Service Centre. Ask questions about the organization your massage therapist is registered through. By doing so you can recognize if it is deemed as eligible by the Co-operators.

Massage for non-therapeutic purposes

Regardless, you may be happy to know that unregulated massage therapy for pure relaxation purposes is a growing industry. These establishments, commonly referred to as “massage parlours”, do not typically employ Registered Massage Therapists and often provide additional services. After visiting a massage parlour they may offer receipts intended for insurance purposes. However, these non-medical claims aren’t covered and are unable to be reimbursed. How can you spot the difference, then, between a registered and a non-registered massage parlour? Here are a list of key indicators to look out for:

  • Hours of operation – If they are open longer hours or 24 hours 7 days a week
  • The use of inappropriate advertising or graphics
  • Advertising “additional” or “other” services with suggestive language

Submitting your claim

Now you’ve had your RMT appointment, and you’re feeling good. You want to submit your claim but you aren’t sure what you need. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place. When submitting your massage therapy claims, be sure to include a detailed receipt that states a breakdown of charges including any gratuity, the service date and location, as well as the therapist name. In addition, it can be very important and helpful to have the RMT number and registration association on hand. We may contact you if any of the required information is missing from your claim submission. And just like that, you’re all set!

Working with a Registered Massage Therapist will help ensure that you receive the proper treatment for your medical condition. Visit our website to learn more about the group benefits plans we offer, or click here to request a free quote.

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