acupuncture

Health insurance for acupuncture

Can acupuncture fees be claimed with health insurance? Find the cover you need

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 starting from $3 per week

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture stimulates the nerves, causing the brain to release hormones and other helpful chemicals that help you heal faster and feel better.

An acupuncturist will ask you what's wrong and then insert thin needles into the skin at strategic points around the body. They'll place each needle wherever they think it will have the most impact on your condition, drawing from both Chinese medical tradition and Western medical understanding of the nervous system.

It's a calming experience, because you'll most likely be lying down for the entire session while the practitioner monitors your progress and gently repositions the needles when necessary.

How is acupuncture covered by health insurance?

Acupuncture cover is considered an "extra", so you'll either have to have a standalone extras policy or a policy that combines hospital and extras. If your extras policy includes acupuncture cover, it will usually be under the "natural therapies" section alongside therapies like remedial massage and physio.

Beyond that, here are a few factors you should consider:

  • Is your practitioner certified? To be covered, your practitioner must have a degree that complies with the Australian Guidelines for Traditional Chinese Medicine Education. This can be a Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture) or an overseas equivalent.
  • Do you have a waiting period? If this is your first extras policy, you'll probably have a waiting period of around 2 months for natural therapies. If you're moving over from another extras policy with similar cover, the insurer may waive your waiting period but is not required to.
  • Did the acupuncturist prescribe anything else? Your practitioner might prescribe traditional Chinese herbs to go along with your acupuncture, but your policy probably won't cover it.
  • Do you have combined extras? Some policies have a separate benefit limit for each "extra", for example you might have $1000 worth of cover for extras, but it's capped at $100 toward dental, $100 toward acupuncture and so on. A combined policy will let you spend that entire $1000 on any listed extra you want. So go nuts and drop it all on acupuncture - just avoid getting a cavity in the meantime.

Who offers acupuncture cover?

The following table lists the health funds that offer acupuncture cover and what the benefit limits are.

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 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.

What medical conditions can acupuncture treat?

The acupuncture tradition goes back more than 2,000 years, which is enough time for masters of the craft to develop treatments for almost any illness you can think of. However, it is important to remember that it should complement your existing medical treatment rather than replace it.

Here are just a few of the conditions acupuncture can help treat:

  • Back pain
  • Asthma
  • Digestive problems
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines
  • Allergies
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Cataracts
  • Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ)

Acupuncture for weight loss

Acupuncture isn't just for pain and broken bones. It is becoming a more and more popular treatment for other "imbalances" like weight loss. Studies suggest acupuncture may help with weight loss when combined with more common methods like a healthy diet and exercise.

According to Chinese tradition, negative emotions like anxiety and over-worry can lead to imbalances in the digestive organs.

An acupuncturist will treat this with the "five point" technique by placing needles in five points in and around your ear. You heard that right! Your ear contains meridian points that affect all regions of your body, including these five related to weight gain:

  • one point affecting the hunger response
  • one point affecting the stomach (the main digestive organ)
  • one point affecting the spleen (connected to the stomach)
  • one point affecting digestive hormones
  • one master point affecting pain and addiction

Acupuncture for fertility

If you're slamming back your vitamins, cutting out the toxins and tracking your ovulation cycles, you'd be glad to know acupuncture can fit right into your fertility routine.

To promote fertility, the acupuncturist will place needles around your legs, lower abdomen and lower back with the purpose of increasing blood flow to your uterus and ovaries.

If you're preparing for in vitro fertilisation (IVF), acupuncture can help to reduce stress, regulate hormones and encourage ovulation.

And since it takes two to tango, acupuncture can help men increase their stamina and energy levels, while also helping to improving sperm count and quality.

Acupuncture for pregnancy

Getting stuck with a bunch of needles might not seem like the best way to spend your pregnancy, until you find out that it may help with a lot of the other pregnancy-related nuisances like fatigue, morning sickness, aches, pains and swelling. Best of all, you can get that qi flowing to both you and your baby throughout the entire pregnancy (and beyond).

  • First trimester. The acupuncturist might work on treatments to help prevent miscarriage, reduce morning sickness and channel nourishment toward the bub.
  • Second trimester. This is generally considered the "easiest" trimester, so you may just go in for maintenance treatment.
  • Third trimester. Acupuncture will be used to help your body adjust to all its rapid changes and to help you prepare for delivery.
  • Post-birth. You can even get treatment after birth to help your body recover from the extraordinary experience that just occurred.

Acupuncture for anxiety

Anyone ever say you need to add some more yin to your yang? Well maybe they didn't put it quite like that. In Chinese medicine, anxiety takes on many forms but they're all caused by a deficiency in one of the yin-promoting organs. Acupuncture will specifically target each one, like so:

  • Got anger or frustration issues? Acupuncture will aim to balance the liver and gallbladder energy.
  • Worry a lot? Your spleen and stomach will be the target.
  • Always feeling afraid? Let acupuncture restore balance to the kidneys and bladder.
  • In a funk? Use acupuncture to send some qi to your lungs and large intestine.

Have a chat with your acupuncturist about your anxiety and they may also recommend some traditional Chinese herbs that can bring some of that healing yin back to all the right spots.

How do I claim acupuncture on my health insurance?

Your policy will most likely pay a percentage of the total bill for each claimable visit and you'll be responsible for the rest. Here are a few ways to get that refund:

  • Swipe your membership card at checkout. If the practitioner provides this service, you can swipe your card and have the insurer's portion deducted from the total bill. You'll just pay the remainder.
  • Claim online. You pay the total bill and then hit up your insurer for their portion later. When you get home, just login to your insurer's mobile app or website and follow the prompts to lodge your claim. They'll deposit their share into a bank account that you'd set up with them previously.

Does Medicare cover acupuncture?

Medicare doesn’t cover acupuncture treatment unless your doctor performs the procedure during a private consultation. In this case, you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate of $21. Acupuncture is also a WorkCover approved treatment.

Compare health insurance options today

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Picture:Antonika Chanel - Unsplash

Brad Buzzard

Brad is an insurance writer whose background in analytics makes him the perfect person to research, analyse and interpret the complex world of insurance. When not writing, you can find Brad in the nearest yoga studio.

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