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Private health insurance for natural therapies
Have you ever wanted to explore natural therapies to treat conditions that don’t fully respond to traditional medicine – but you find them too expensive? Also, do you already visit a holistic health practitioner, and want to know if insurance can cover it?
It’s important to understand that Medicare does not cover natural therapies. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look for a health insurance plan that includes natural therapies if you commonly use these treatments, or would like to start. You might just find a private health insurance plan that covers the specific natural therapies you’re after.
What are natural therapies?
Natural therapies are generally considered to be part of alternative medicine, which either has benefits that haven’t been, or cannot be, scientifically proven.
Natural therapies aim to treat certain conditions either as a first line of defence, without the use of traditional medicine, or as a complementary treatment to traditional medicine. Natural therapies aren’t intended to have side effects and are generally non-invasive. They’re offered by alternative practitioners who study them specifically, and these therapies aren’t available from general medical practitioners.
There are a growing number of people in Australia choosing to try natural therapies1. In most of the western world it has become popular to undertake such treatments, and there’s a growing amount of research into them. Current legislation by the Australian government enables private health insurers to pay benefits for natural therapies from their general treatment ancillary tables1.
Which natural therapies do private health insurance cover?
Private health insurers might cover a wide range of natural therapies in extras packages or under combined cover. The most common natural therapies covered by insurers are acupuncture, naturopathy, and remedial massage.
You’ll need to check individual policies to ensure that the natural therapies you’re interested in receiving are covered.
It’s important to note that on 1st April 2019, the Australian Government will cease to provide the private health insurance rebate to insurers for some natural therapies, including Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi, and yoga. This may affect extras policies that currently do cover these health services2.
Part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the skin or applying various other techniques to acupuncture points to encourage the body to heal itself3.
Acupuncture is mainly used to complement traditional medicine, rather than replace it. A review of the evidence for the use of acupuncture to treat or manage a range of disorders by The British National Health Service found that there was evidence that acupuncture is effective to treat dental pain, jaw pain and to control nausea after operations and chemotherapy treatment3.
Naturopathy is a holistic approach to wellness. It aims to educate people in actively look after their own health, and the health of their family members. The goal is to minimise the symptoms of any illness, support the body’s capacity to heal, and balance the body so that illness is less likely to occur in the future4.
Naturopathic therapies may include nutritional medicine, diet advice, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, lifestyle advice, massage, acupressure or Bowen technique4.
Remedial massage is the objective assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of the signs, symptoms and causes of biomechanical dysfunction or injury in order to restore normal health and function5.
The therapeutic benefits of massage were used by many ancient cultures – including the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians – to treat a variety of health problems5.
Gap payments and natural therapy
There will be a difference between what the natural therapy treatment costs, and what your private health insurance policy will pay out as a benefit. This is known as the gap. Each insurer has a different amount they’ll pay for natural therapies, so it’s best to check and compare plans.
Waiting periods and natural therapy
As with most benefits, you have to wait a certain period of time after signing up for your health insurance before claiming benefits for natural therapies. Waiting periods vary depending on the insurer, but if you’re switching from another provider with the same cover and you have already served the waiting periods, they will be waived with the new insurer.
1. Australian Department Of Health
2. Australian Department Of Health
3. Victorian Government
4. Victorian Government
5. Victorian Government
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