Does Medicare Cover Migraines?

Jory Cross by Jory Cross | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/10/2018

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What is a migraine?

A migraine headache is a reoccurring attack of moderate to severe pain according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). More than 1 in 10 Americans get migraines and women are more than three times more likely to get migraines than men.  Migraines are sometimes accompanied by:

  • Throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of the head
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea and vomiting

According to the Mayo Clinic, migraine pain can last from hours to days and can be so severe that it’s disabling.

What cause migraines?

According to NLM, many things can trigger a migraine, including

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Lack of food
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Light exposure
  • Hormonal changes in women

Doctors believe that migraines are linked to genes that control the activity of some brain cells.

What is treatment for migraine relief?

Migraine treatment can help stop migraine symptoms as well as prevent future attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Pain-relieving medications for migraines could include:

  • Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen or Tylenol. Some medications marketed specifically for migraines such as Excedrin Migraine have a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine.
  • Triptans which make the blood vessels constrict
  • Ergots to treat pain that lasts more than 48 hours
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Opioid medications (narcotics) when no other treatments provide migraine relief
  • Glucocorticoids

Preventative medications for migraines could include:

  • Beta blockers, which also treat high blood pressure and coronary artery disease
  • Antidepressants may be effective in treating migraines in people without depression
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Botox
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, especially naproxen

Non-traditional therapies may also be effective in migraine relief including

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Herbs, vitamins and minerals

Lifestyle practices, such as getting enough sleep and practicing yoga or meditation may help with migraine relief, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Does Medicare cover migraine treatment?

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers limited prescription medications usually administered in the hospital or in an outpatient setting. For coverage for medications you take at home, such as medications for migraines, you generally need a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. You can get Medicare Part D coverage through:

  • A stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
  • A Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan

Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover some over-the-counter medications as a supplemental benefit, but generally Medicare Part D is for prescription drugs only. Alternative medicines including herbals are generally not covered by either Original Medicare nor Medicare Advantage.

Medicare also generally doesn’t cover acupuncture or massage therapy for migraine relief.

Do you have more questions about Medicare coverage of migraines?

If you have more questions about Medicare coverage, I can help answer your questions. If you like, use the other links to request a phone appointment or an email from me. I’ll send you Medicare information tailored to your needs. To browse plans now, try the Compare Plans buttons on this page.

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