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Does health insurance cover yoga?

Keep in mind...
  • Yoga is recognized as a complementary health program
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, yoga is not covered by health insurance
  • Yoga helps with mental and physical health
  • Insurance companies that cover some alternative therapies such as acupuncture will likely be the first to cover yoga

Yoga, referred to formally as hatha yoga, is the practice of meditation and exercise. There are many forms of yoga, but all forms encourage improved physicality and better mental health. Practicing yoga helps improve flexibility and breathing. It’s also been known to decrease stress and help maintain your overall health.

Many yogis believe yoga is the best way to calm one’s spirit. For this reason, more people are starting to practice yoga every day.

Yoga is not covered by most insurance companies, though some that offer alternative medicine coverage may provide yoga benefits. Even if you can’t get your yoga classes covered by health insurance, you can still save money by comparing free online quotes.

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Yoga is Good for Your Body and Soul

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You’re probably taking yoga classes because of the great benefits it offers your mind and body. Studies have shown yoga can help with heart health, cancer recovery, and chronic pain. It also helps relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

Medical services under the Affordable Care Act favor preventative medicine. But, yoga is considered a complementary health service. So, what does that mean? Is it covered by health insurance?

Complementary Health Services

The average yoga class is about $20 to $25 an hour, which can add up fast. In major cities, the cost can skyrocket to $90 to $125 for an hour session. Some health insurances have started covering alternative health therapies such as massages and acupuncture.

In fact, chiropractic care was once not covered nearly as much as it is now because it was considered an alternative. Many health insurers also reimburse subscribers for gym memberships and fitness programs. So, what about yoga?

Is yoga covered by health insurance?

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Unfortunately, yoga isn’t covered by traditional medical insurance, yet. Neither it is considered an approved cost for health savings accounts (HSA). Most insurance companies still lump yoga into alternative therapies with no coverage. Technically, yoga is regarded as a complementary health therapy.

But, most insurance companies aren’t reimbursing for it yet. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask.

Acupuncture wasn’t considered an acceptable therapy until 2014. Coverage usually only applies to California residents, but it’s an example of why it never hurts to ask for something.

Adding to the yoga movement is the vast number of Americans who are interested in learning and practicing yoga. A 2016 study by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance revealed that more than 36 million Americans practice yoga, and that 34 percent of Americans — that’s 80 million people — are likely to start practicing yoga within the next 12 months.

Since so many people are interested in yoga, it seems valid to argue that if yoga were more affordable, more people would take part in it.

Why Yoga isn’t Covered Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

You’re probably wondering why yoga isn’t covered as a complementary health therapy under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA covers many preventative and wellness-based treatments. However, there is no specific coverage for yoga under the ACA. Coverage of complementary health therapies varies from one state to another and one insurer to the next.

The Future of Yoga and Health Insurance

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If you love yoga and what it does for your body, keep doing it. One can hope that insurance companies will eventually catch up and cover yoga the same way they cover other traditionally accepted forms of health and wellness. In the meantime, you should just keep doing what you do.

If you’re up for the challenge, you should write letters to the insurance company and ask your physician to back you up with copies of medical records and a list of your progress.

You can also look for insurance companies that cover alternative therapies such as chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture. Even if these insurance companies aren’t actively covering yoga, they will likely be the first to acknowledge it when it is eventually included.

Additionally, insurance businesses that reimburse for gym memberships and offer discount fitness classes are also probably one of the first insurance companies that will provide benefits for yoga classes.

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