Elder Guru

Will Medicaid or Medicare Cover Tattoo Removal?

medicare tattoo removal old tattoo

Medicare covered tattoo removal? Medicaid covered tattoo removal? Are these covered services? Dermatologists offer laser removal, but will your insurance cover it?

Have a tattoo you want removed? Perhaps you have the name of a now ex-husband or wife tattooed on your arm. Maybe you had a few post-apocalyptic tattoos that now don’t look so good. Maybe you’re just tired of them. Either way, you’ve decided you want them gone.

Then you found out that the average cost for laser tattoo removal is $250-$500 per treatment. The price depends on the complexity, but one thing is certain – it will require more than one treatment. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, you’re probably wondering if it will be a covered service.

Medicare Coverage for Tattoo Removal

Medicare covers dermatology services, but only when they are medically necessary. Your Medicare Part B benefits will generally cover such medically necessary services. The problem for tattoo removal, however, is that it is not a medically necessary service.

Medically necessary dermatology services include treatment of psoriasis, eczema, herpes, skin cancer screenings, and so forth. “Medically necessary” is a gray area that can cause confusion for people (and providers). A procedure that is elective for one patient may be medically necessary for another.

Tattoo removal is considered a cosmetic treatment, however. This is similar to Botox injections, laser hair removal, chemical peels, etcetera. Medicare will not cover tattoo removal.

Medicaid Coverage for Tattoo Removal

Medicaid coverage for tattoo removal is the same as it is for Medicare. It must be medically necessary. Tattoo removal is considered a cosmetic service under Medicaid, the same as it is under Medicare. Medicaid will not cover tattoo removal.

What Now?

Financial assistance for tattoo removal is very limited. The best option, for better or worse, may just be to live with the tattoo as you have been all along. There is more to laser tattoo removal than just the cost. Consider:

  • Laser removal will take months, if not a year or more.
  • It’s very expensive.
  • The process is painful.
  • Not all ink can be removed.
  • You’ll need bandages and clothes that don’t rest on the tattoo.
  • You may have a scar in its place.

Another option may be to get lighter ink to go over the tattoo and make something new out of it. You still have the cost for that service, however – but it may cost less!

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