As a provider of massage therapy for the treatment of injuries related to work or automobile accidents, I often receive calls from injured individuals seeking my company’s services.
Sometimes these patients will have already seen a doctor and been referred for massage therapy. Other times, either an individual has not yet been fully evaluated for injuries, or has already seen a doctor but did not receive a prescription specifically for massage therapy.
The number one reason why it is imperative that new patients seeking massage through their auto insurance or work injury claim obtain a prescription first is that Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs) are by law not allowed to diagnose any illness or disorder. This is an important distinction between LMTs and some other healthcare providers like doctors (MD / DO), physical therapists (PT), and in some cases chiropractors (DC) who can diagnose and prescribe therapies.
Physicians are getting more and more comfortable prescribing massage for a variety of injuries and other health conditions. (To learn about what kinds of insurance policies cover massage please see my related article here).
It is also important for physicians to be as specific as possible when writing out the order for massage. For example, in order to properly submit the paperwork to the insurance company, the documentation must include “diagnosis codes”. Since the LMT can’t diagnose anything, if the physician does not include these codes, the therapist will have to try to contact the doctor’s office to get them before submitting any bills.
It is also helpful when the doctor indicates the frequency of massages prescribed. Some people may only need once or twice a week for a month, while other injuries may call for multiple weekly sessions for several months.
Working with a reputable massage provider experienced in dealing with physicians and insurance companies will help to make the process of obtaining prescribed massage therapy through insurance a painless one. For further information please read this related article on how to choose the best injury massage provider .
Daniel Melmed, LMT