The Med Diva

An insider's guide to Medicare Part D and more

Medicare No Longer Pays for Vitamin B-12 Injections — and it’s All Obama’s Fault

Medicare True or False
Is the headline of this post true or false?

If you are a person who believes everything you read on the Internet, then you may be inclined to say it’s true. If, on the other hand, you question everything that sounds too good to be true or simply too unbelievable, then you probably think it’s false—but you’re going to do more research to double-check.

A recent State Farm commercial features a man and a woman discussing mobile apps. During the conversation, the man asks the woman why she believes something he said, and she tells him it’s because she read it on the Internet. “They can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true,” she tells him. Right then, an unattractive man walks into view. The woman tells her friend that the boorish man said he was a French male model on the Internet.

The point is, there are a lot of lies out there on the World Wide Web. And many of them have to do with horrible changes to Medicare coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many of the lies are ludicrous and primarily designed to instill fear in people.

The other day, my mom sent me an e-mail that she had received from a former coworker. She told me she was concerned about some of the things the letter said about Medicare coverage under the ACA, aka, Obamacare. Here’s just one excerpt from the e-mail:

Today I went to the doctor for my monthly B-12 shot that I have been getting for a number of years. The nurse came and got me, got out the needle filled and ready to go and then looked at the computer and got very quiet and asked if I was prepared to pay for it. She said that Medicare had turned it down and went to talk to my doctor about it. Fifteen minutes later she came back and said she was sorry, but they had tried everything they could but Medicare is beginning to turn many things away for seniors because of the projected Obamacare coming in.

I did some quick research on and and found out that this letter was one of many that began circulating when Congress was considering a healthcare bill called America’s Affordable Health Choices of 2009 (H.R. 3200). This bill was never passed by Congress. However, the letters continue to circulate, even though most of the points made in these letters are completely irrelevant, outdated, and have nothing to do with Obama’s Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590).

Yes, Medicare does pay for B-12 injections – if deemed reasonable and necessary
Under Section 1862 (a) (1) (A) of the Social Security Act, Medicare covers services that are deemed reasonable and necessary “for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member.” For example, vitamin B-12 injections are covered, but only for diagnoses such as pernicious anemia, gastrectomy, and dementias secondary to vitamin B-12 deficiency. In addition, the frequency and duration of the administration of the medication must be within accepted standards of medical practice, or there must be a valid explanation regarding the extenuating circumstances to justify the need for the additional injections.

You should also make sure your doctor’s office uses the correct codes when billing Medicare for B-12 injections. According to what I read on the American Academy of Professional Coders website, some Medicare Advantage Plans will not pay for the injection if the doctor also bills Medicare for an Evaluation and Management service. Other plans require a diagnosis code in addition to the codes for the administration and drug code. So if you get your coverage from a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medigap supplemental plan, you should ask what documentation the plan requires for coverage before getting your first injection.


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5 thoughts on “Medicare No Longer Pays for Vitamin B-12 Injections — and it’s All Obama’s Fault

  1. Karen T. Taylor on said:

    Thank you for posting this. This email is on Facebook. I get a B12 shot for pernicious anemia monthly and Medicare pays for it.

  2. My 91 and 93 year old friends went to get their B12 shots they have gotten for years and were told Medicare under Obamacare will no longer pay for them unless their B12 blood level is below a certain number. They paid for them themselves because they see a huge difference in their energy level when they miss these shots. So, Yes Medicare does cover B12 and No they do not. I am tired of neither side giving all the facts. I believe if a Dr prescribes it and it is given in some cases it should be given in all but I also understand why certain levels have to be set to save money. I just worry about the group the is setting the limits and what their qualifications are.

  3. Good day! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  4. Becky Sullivan on said:

    Guess what. you were all very wrong. I have been my injections for years as a Multiple Sclerosis patient. I had been getting them weekly. As of January 1, 2015 Medicare no longer covers ANY supplements, even with trying preauthorization from my doctor. Not my b12 or my folbic tablets. I had truly hoped that it was paranoia but unfortunately it was not.

    • Yes, unfortunately as of February 2014, Medicare will no longer cover B12 injections if there is no evidence of a deficiency of this vitamin. Since Medicare started in 1965, it has been making changes to what is covered and what is not covered based on new medical findings and clinical evidence. This is nothing new for Medicare, and has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Medicare rules change each and every year, which is why it’s so complicated and aggravating!

      Here is what CMS says:
      All other indications for using vitamin B12 injections in the absence of a vitamin B12 deficiency are considered not medically necessary, including but not limited to the following:

      Lowering homocysteine levels ( to reduce cardiovascular risk); or
      Strengthening tendons, ligaments, etc., of the foot; or
      As a treatment of

      Arthritis, or
      Autism, or
      Delayed growth, or
      Diabetic neuropathy, or
      Fatigue (without a documented vitamin B12 deficiency), or
      Leukemia, or
      Lupus erythematosis, or
      Multiple sclerosis, or
      Neuritis, or
      Senility, or

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