TRICARE Toolkit: Gaps Remain in Chiropractic Coverage

TRICARE Toolkit: Gaps Remain in Chiropractic Coverage
FatCamera/Getty Images

MOAA’s TRICARE Toolkit provides insight and tips for navigating your TRICARE benefits. Have a question or suggestion for an upcoming column? Email Read other TRICARE Toolkit columns at


Chiropractic care is a form of alternative medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially of the spine.


For some, chiropractic care is controversial, but others find it a great pain reliever.


A chiropractor may have a doctor of chiropractic degree, different from a doctor of medicine. Systematic reviews of controlled clinical studies of treatments used by chiropractors have found no evidence that chiropractic manipulation is effective, with the possible exception of treatment for back pain.




The Mayo Clinic describes chiropractic adjustment as a “procedure in which a trained specialist uses their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. The goal of this procedure, also known as spinal manipulation, is to improve spinal motion and improve your body’s physical function.”


There have been a number of instances where TRICARE has considered an expansion of chiropractic services for beneficiaries. In 2020, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) announced TRICARE beneficiaries in 10 states would be eligible to take part in TRICARE’s Low Back Pain and Physical Therapy Demonstration.


TRICARE considers a demonstration to be a “special provision that lets TRICARE try new methods of delivering health care. After the demonstration, the service might or might not become a TRICARE-covered medical service.”


This demonstration program ran through  Dec. 31, 2023, for eligible participants in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia.


Outside of the demonstration, TRICARE’s Chiropractic Health Care program continues to provide this care only for active duty servicemembers and activated Guard/Reserve members. All other beneficiaries be referred to non-chiropractic health care services or can get chiropractic care in the local community at their own expense.


[AT TRICARE.MIL: Chiropractic Care for Servicemembers]


MOAA has long fought to close this coverage gap. Chiropractic care has become standard for private-sector health plans as a needed form of pain management, reducing the over-reliance on drugs to treat some chronic issues.


Chiropractic clinics have popped up at several Army and Air Force Exchange Service wellness programs at Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; and Nellis AFB, Nev.


With the demonstration period over, all indications from DHA are that chiropractic care will remain an uncovered medical service except for those listed above.



Works hand-in-hand with your Select or Prime Plan. Count on valuable protection. 

Enroll Now

Related Content

About the Author

Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret)
Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret)

Frost co-leads MOAA's Financial and Benefits Education program and is also an accredited Veteran Service Officer (VSO), providing VA disability compensation claim and appeal information and advice to the military community.