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Can Therapeutic Massage Be Claimed As A Medical Expense?

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Massage therapists worldwide agree that therapeutic massage is excellent for your health and wellbeing. In addition, it aids in physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy and can also be used in conjunction with acupuncture. Granted, therapists and healthcare professionals are aware of your complete treatment plan to combine therapies successfully.

This brings the question: Is massage therapy a medical expense?

The Role Of The ACC

In New Zealand, accidents are covered by the ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation); this includes workplace accidents and personal injury and also claims by visitors to the country.

Is Therapeutic Massage In New Zealand Subsidised By The ACC?

Massage therapy performed by a massage therapist is currently not funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation. In order for treatments to be covered by the ACC, they must be performed by a healthcare professional who practices under the Health Practitioner Competence Assurance Act (HPCA) of 2003.

Some of these regulated professions include osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists. These professionals have their competency certified annually.

However, the massage industry does not belong to the HPCA; therefore, the industry remains unregulated.

Challenges Facing The Massage Industry

According to the Accident Compensation Corporation (2017b), a massage therapist "performs therapeutic massages and administers body treatments for relaxation, health, fitness and medical purposes."

The ACC acknowledges the role of massage therapies to assist in sports performance and injury prevention as well as add to overall health and well being. However, while the effectiveness of massage therapy is not a concern, massage therapy is often regarded as a holistic approach due to the unregulated nature of the industry and lack of a recognised regulating body issuing annual practice certificates.

Although massage is used to facilitate quicker healing time with injuries, ACC does not cover this. However, you are encouraged to book Tuina or Medical Massage to help with your recovery alongside your ACC approved treatment of Acupuncture.

Claiming For Massage Therapy As A Medical Expense

While the ACC doesn't subsidise massage therapy, it can still be covered by medical insurance policies, such as Southern Cross, but you should check with your policy provider to confirm what is covered in your policy.

Provided a medical practitioner prescribes your massage, this may help relieve and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, rehabilitation of injury, depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue.

Steps to take:

  • Check with your medical insurance provider first to determine the conditions of cover.

  • Keep records, including prescriptions and receipts of massage therapy sessions.


The benefits of therapeutic massage are extensive, and although the ACC does not subsidise it, there are associated treatments that may be covered. Additionally, you may claim for massage therapy from your medical insurance providers.

At Acute Acupuncture in Wellington, we are an ACC treatment provider and offer a range of treatments and services; however, ACC only covers Acupuncture at Acute Acupuncture as a form of treatment at the clinic in Wellington, provided that you have an ACC45 claim number, the date of injury, the read codes, that this claim has been approved by ACC, and is under one year from the date of the initial injury.

If your accident is over one year old, we can fill out and submit an ACC32 form with ACC. However, no ACC treatment can be conducted until that ACC32 has been approved.

We understand the importance of enabling our patients to achieve optimum health and wellbeing. We value all of our patients as individuals and strive to provide the best health care treatment based on each patient's needs.

Our service is based on professionalism, quality patient outcomes, respect and safety adherence. Start your journey towards improving your quality of life with therapeutic massage and book your free 15-minute consultation today.

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