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How to Start Providing VA Massage Therapy (+ Tips for Billing the VA)

A recent consumer study found that 88% of respondents reported massage therapy was beneficial to their overall health and wellness. Want to offer massage therapy services to the veterans in your community, but aren’t sure how to manage billing the VA? We’re here to help you understand this process better so you can deliver quality care to veterans at your holistic practice.

There are numerous methods of massage therapy, including:

  • Medical massage
  • Hot stone massage
  • Swedish massage
  • Reflexology
  • Trigger point massage
  • Thai massage

Each method implements a particular set of movements that target muscles in order to increase blood flow, promote relaxation, alleviate physical pain, and encourage overall wellness.

Does the VA Cover Massage Therapy?

It depends on the specific circumstances and location. Some VA facilities may offer massage therapy as a form of rehabilitation for veterans, but it is not a widely covered service under VA benefits. It is best to check with your local VA facility or speak with a VA representative to determine if massage therapy is covered in your area.

Benefits of VA Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has been proven to treat a wide array of conditions veterans might be suffering from, including:

  • Chronic pain: Massage therapy treatments help stimulate blood flow to parts of the body experiencing pain, which helps promote the release of natural painkillers; since massage therapy results in relaxation, overall chronic pain conditions can be managed with treatments. This is an especially timely holistic approach in light of the ongoing opioid epidemic.
  • Depression: One study found that 11% of veterans were experiencing elevated levels of depression; massage therapy can help alleviate the physical symptoms of this mental condition, such as back pain, body aches, sluggishness, and more. 
  • Anxiety: A 2016 research study demonstrated that Swedish massage therapy treatment was successful in reducing the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Veterans often experience complicated symptoms of anxiety linked to PTSD and homelessness, which can increase the risk of suicide; incorporating a massage therapy treatment plan into an overall wellness plan can help mediate these symptoms.

How To Start Treating Veterans at Your Massage Therapy Practice

The US Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes clinical massage therapy as “one of the evidence-based, complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches within the VHA Whole Health System of care” and covers the cost of this care when deemed necessary. Follow these steps to start treating veterans with massage therapy at your holistic practice!

Apply for Your National Provider Identifier (NPI)

A National Provider Identifier, or NPI, is a 10-digit identification number issued to healthcare providers in the U.S. by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Your massage therapy practice will need to apply for an NPI if you are a HIPAA-covered health care provider or if you bill insurance for your services.

Determine Your Region

The VA Community Care Network (CCN) is divided into six regions that cover the continental United States in addition to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. TriWest manages the western networks while Optum handles the eastern regions. Find out which region your practice resides in.

Get Credentialed

In order to provide quality care for veterans at your holistic practice with massage therapy, you’ll need to be credentialed with the region’s third-party administrator. This process typically takes at least three months to complete. Depending on your region, contact the following to get started with the credentialing process:

  • Region 1: 888-901-7407 (Optum)
  • Region 2: 844-839-6108 (Optum)
  • Region 3: 888-901-6613 (Optum)
  • Region 4: 866-286-4174 (Triwest)
  • Region 5: 877-226-8749 (Triwest)

The VA has not officially contracted with an agency for Region 6; contact information is pending for that region.

Complete Registration Paperwork

Upon completing the credentialing process, you’ll need to submit the necessary paperwork to become fully registered with the network. This paperwork is submitted electronically and will include details regarding any final requirements that must be met in order to finish the credentialing process.

Receive Patient Authorizations

Once your holistic practice has been verified and authorized by the VA’s network, you’ll start to receive referrals to treat veterans who are approved to start massage therapy treatment. Your CCN administrator will provide the patient’s authorization letters before the patient’s first visit to your practice.

va massage therapy

Checklist for Initial Claims Processing

When submitting an insurance claim to the VA for the first time, you’ll need to submit all the authorization letter pages together with the claim. Make sure you transmit all the following information with your massage therapy claim to avoid a denial:

  • A cover letter
  • The date range for services
  • Authorization numbers
  • The total number of visits authorized
  • The patient’s demographics including address, date of birth, and social security number
  • Documentation and CPT codes of treatments administered

By following this checklist, you can ensure your Veterans Administration insurance claim will have all the accurate information it needs for a smooth billing process. 

Maximize Your Reimbursements for VA Insurance Claims with Holistic Billing

As a medical billing provider with a special focus on holistic and integrative health practices, such as massage therapy practices, Holistic Billing Services can help you get credentialed by your region’s CCN and help you start treating veterans right away. We have plenty of experience navigating the unique VA billing guidelines, which allows us to maximize your reimbursements and keep your practice’s revenue flowing.

To learn more about how you can get started providing acupuncture for veterans and active service members without worrying about having your VA claims denied, talk to our massage therapy billing and coding experts today!

December 16, 2021
 - by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME
va massage therapy
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