Acupuncture needles applied to a patients back

Health insurance for acupuncture

Can acupuncture fees be claimed with health insurance? Learn about the type of policy you need and the costs that are covered.

Acupuncture is a safe, traditional Chinese health treatment in which needles are inserted into your body’s pressure points to bring pain relief and to treat medical conditions. In Australia it's recognised as a viable treatment and can be included in extras cover for out of hospital services.

Compare extras health insurance offered by 30+ funds

What costs can be covered by your health fund?

If you've got an extras policy that includes acupuncture then you can claim benefits for consultations performed by a licensed practitioner. Extras health insurance is typically available as a stand alone policy or a combined hospital and extras policy from most private health funds.

There is no set amount that you’ll be covered for, as benefit amounts vary depending on the health fund you are with. Check with your health fund to find out how your benefit will be paid and how much you can claim each year.

How is acupuncture covered by health funds?

Private health funds will pay a benefit only if you use the services of a qualified acupuncturist. An acupuncturist must have completed a bachelor's degree in Australia, for example a Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture), or an overseas equivalent.

The degree must comply with the Australian Guidelines for Traditional Chinese Medicine Education. Importantly, health funds will not recognise qualifications if your acupuncturist has completed units of study as part of a master’s degree.

Health fundExtras policies and annual benefit limits*Waiting periods
AHM health insurance
  • Lite Extras. $100 per person
  • Complete Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
Australian Unity logo
  • Bronze Extras. $400 per person
  • Bronze+ Extras. $300 per person
  • Silver Extras. $300 per person
  • Gold Extras. $350 per person
  • 2 months
budget direct 165x75
  • Top Extras Cover. 400 per person
  • Basic Extras. 400 per person
  • 2 months
CUA Health logo
  • Total Extras. $400 per person
  • Classic Extras. $250 per person
  • Essential Extras. $100 per person
  • 2 months
HCF health insurance
  • Platinum Extras. $300 per person
  • Gold Extras. $250 per person
  • Silver Plus Extras. $150 per person
  • Bronze Plus Extras. $100 per person
  • Bronze Extras. $100 per person
  • 2 months
health.com.au health insurance
  • Extras 50. $400 per person
  • Pulse Extras. $100 per person
  • 2 months
HIF health insurance
  • Premium Options. $500 per person
  • Super Options. $250 per person
  • Special Options. $100 per person
  • Saver Options. $50 per person
  • 2 months
nib health insurance
  • Top Extras. $400 per person
  • Core Wellbeing Extras. $300 per person
  • 2 months
CBHS Health Fund
  • Restricted health fund
  • Top Extras. $450 per person
  • Intermediate Extras. $300 per person
  • Essential Extras. $200 per person
  • 2 months

*The policies listed in this table are extras only. However, in most cases these can be combined with hospital cover. Information last verified June 2017. Always read the PDS before buying a policy.

Health fundExtras policies and annual benefit limits*Waiting periods
Bupa
  • Bronze Extras. $350 per person
  • Your Choice Extras. $500 per person
  • Silver Extras. $400 per person
  • Gold Extras. $500 per person
  • 2 months
Cessnock District Health Fund
  • Gold extras. $600 per person
  • Silver extras. $400 per person
  • Bronze extras. $600 per person
  • 2 months
Frank Health Insurance
  • Lots Extras. $400 per person
  • Some Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
GMF
  • Flexi Extras. $200 per person
  • Flexi Extras Mid. $300 per person
  • Flexi Extras Plus. $300 per person
  • Premium Extras Plus. $350 per person
  • 2 months
HBF
  • Flexi Extras. $200 per person
  • Flexi Extras Mid. $300 per person
  • Flexi Extras Plus. $300 per person
  • Premium Extras Plus. $350 per person
  • 2 months
Health Care Insurance
  • Premier Extras. $500 per person
  • Active Life Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
Latrobe Health Services
  • Premier Gold , Family Care Gold. $1000 per person
  • Premier Plus, Premier. $300 per person
  • Premier Silver. $450 per person
  • 2 months
Medibank
  • Top Extras. $200 per person
  • Basic Extras. $100 per person
  • Growing Family Extras Only. $150 per person
  • Healthy Start Extras. $150 per person
  • 2 months
Mildura Health Fund
  • Five Star Extras. $600 per person
  • Ancillary Plus Extras. $540 per person
  • 2 months
onemedifund
  • Extras Plus. $435 per person
  • Basic Extras. $350 per person
  • 2 months
Peoplecare
  • Mid Extra. $300 per person
  • Premium Extra. $350 per person
  • High Extra. $400 per person
  • 2 months
Phoenix Health Fund
  • 2 months
Queensland Country Health Fund
  • Essential Extras. $900 per person
  • Premium Extras. $1,400 per person
  • Young Extras. $500 per person
  • 2 months
St. Lukes Health
  • Super Extras. $400 per person
  • Budget Extras. $200 per person
  • 2 months
Transport Health
  • Top Extras. $600 per person
  • 2 months
ACA Health
  • Restricted health fund
  • Lite Extras. $100 per person
  • Complete Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
Defence Health
  • Restricted health fund
  • Premier Extras. 400 per person
  • Value Extras. $300 per person
  • Essentials Extras. $200 per person
  • 2 months
Doctors Health Fund
  • Restricted health fund
  • Total Extras. $200 limit per person

 

  • 2 months
Navy Health
  • Restricted health fund
  • Premium Extras. $500 per person
  • Healthy Living Extras. $300 per person
  • Saver Plus. $200 per person
  • Basic Extras. $200 per person
  • 2 months
Police Health
  • Restricted health fund
  • SureCover Extras. $700 per person.
  • 2 months
Reserve Bank Health Society
  • Restricted health fund
  • Extras Cover. $850 per person
  • 2 months
RT Health
  • Restricted health fund
  • Premium Extras. $750 per person
  • Smart Extras. $500 per person
  • Value Extras. $300 per person
  • 2 months
Teachers Health Fund
  • Restricted health fund
  • Top Extras. $600 per person
  • Essential Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
TUH
  • Restricted health fund
  • Comprehensive Extras. $400 per person
  • Mid Range Extras. $350 per person
  • Healthy Options 60% Extras. $500 per person
  • 2 months
UniHealth
  • Restricted health fund
  • Top Extras. $600 per person
  • Essential Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months

*The policies listed in this table are extras only. However, in most cases these can be combined with hospital cover.

Details to look for when reviewing health insurance for acupuncture

  • Scope of cover. Some health funds pay a benefit for acupuncture procedures but don't cover other alternative therapies.
  • Certified practitioner. Ensure you visit an acupuncturist who is recognised by your fund so you can claim for the treatment. This requirement may also apply to other alternative therapy practitioners.
  • Ongoing treatment. funds such as nib only pay a benefit for consultations. Ongoing treatment by an acupuncturist may lead to additional out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Treatment frequency. Policies, such as HCF Top Extras cover won’t pay a benefit if you have more than one therapy service provided by the same practitioner in the same day.
  • Waiting periods. Most health funds set a two month waiting period before you can claim acupuncture benefits, although if treatment is for a pre-existing medical condition the waiting period is 12 months.

Who can benefit from acupuncture?

People suffering from chronic back pain, dental or jaw pain and nausea relating from pregnancy or chemotherapy can benefit from acupuncture treatment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also recognised that acupuncture can lead to a positive outcome for neurological, respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal and eye conditions.

How do I claim acupuncture on my health insurance?

Funds may only reimburse you a percentage of the cost of your acupuncture treatment. Your out-of-pocket expenses are called a gap payment, which is the difference between what you pay the acupuncturist and what you get back from the fund.

The most straightforward ways to claim an extras service like acupuncture are:

  • Instantly with HICAPS. Simply swipe your insurance membership card at the acupuncturist’s office (if this service is provided) and your insurance claim will be processed immediately and the refund deposited into your bank account.
  • Online. Navigate to the member portal of your fund’s website and follow the prompts to lodge your claim.

Should I change health funds?

Although acupuncture, along with traditional Chinese medicine, is one of the oldest health treatments in the world, in Western society, the benefits of alternative medicines are still being explored. More funds are including natural therapies within the scope of covered extras every year. Compare policies at finder.com.au so you can find the right policy for you.

Latest headlines

Picture: Shutterstock

Sam Stewart

Sam is an assistant publisher at finder.com.au specialising in health insurance. His number one goal is to give Australians a clearer picture of how health insurance works by diagnosing their problems and providing straightforward explanations.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Compare health insurance on finder.com.au

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, read the PDS or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site