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Is naturopathy covered by health insurance?

Do you prefer alternative therapies in health and medicine? Find out what is covered by health funds.

Naturopathy is a term used to describe a variety of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicine. The medical benefits of naturopathy are largely dependent on the practitioner, the technique and the ailment, which is why naturopathy is not considered a primary treatment modality.

Naturopathy is what is known as a complementary therapy, something that is used in conjunction with established medical procedures to ease discomfort, promote wellbeing and encourage good health.

Naturopathy is often referred to as holistic medicine on account of its expansive view of human health, where physical, mental and emotional facets of the body are considered together. Traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture and herbalism, homeopathy, aromatherapy and diet or lifestyle counselling are all popular forms of naturopathy.

Compare health fund extras that cover naturopathy

Details Features
Active Life Extras
Active Life Extras
Straightforward extras that covers you for vital out of hospital services while keeping premiums low. Treatments include general dental and optical, as well as healthy lifestyle benefits.
  • $500 general and major dental combined limit
  • $400 chiro and osteo annual limit
  • $400 physio annual limit
  • $400 alternate therapies annual limit
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Extras 50
Extras 50
With the Extras 50 policy health.com.au will pay 50% of the provider's fee.
  • From $10.58 weekly
  • 50% back on extras
  • Unlimited emergency ambulance transport cover
  • $500 general dental limit
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Super
Super
Super Extras is the highest level of extras cover available from AHM and provides cover for services ranging from major dental to diet and nutrition to health improvement benefits.
  • No family limits
  • Orthodontics
  • Outpatient care
  • Pre and postnatal
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Premium Options
Premium Options
Premium extras cover for all everyday healthcare services. Save 4% when you pay for 12 months of your cover upfront.
  • Dental and chiropractic cover
  • Osteopathy and optical
  • Occupational therapy
  • Orthoptic
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Platinum 80%
Platinum 80%
Platinum 80% provides you with 80% back on all included extras.
  • Claim up to $8500 on extras
  • General, complex and major dental and orthodontics
  • Pharmacy
  • Travel vaccinations
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Top Extras
Top Extras
Comprehensive extras cover that includes a wide range of non-hospital related treatments and services. Restricted fund: Only current and former employees of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group and their eligible families can join.
  • Generous overall limits on services
  • Major dental including orthodontics
  • Unlimited preventative dental
  • Hearing aids
Enquire Now More info
Gold Extras Set Benefits
Gold Extras Set Benefits
Top level extras cover including cover for a wide range of popular services including orthodontics, physiotherapy and optical.
  • Podiatry
  • Nursing
  • Pressure garments
  • Weight loss program
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Platinum Extras Cover
Platinum Extras Cover
Top level extras cover with highes range of cover for therapies and serivces.
  • 100% back on up to 2 dental visits per year
  • 100% back on initial chiro, physio, osteo
  • General therapies cover
  • Vaccinations and immunisations cover
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Top Extras
Top Extras
NIB's premier extras cover with up to $1,000 in General dental covered annually and cover for a range of therapies including Chiro & Osteo.
  • $1,000 general dental cover annual limit
  • $600 physiotherapy annual limit
  • Unlimited ambulance cover
  • $350 optical annual limit
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Top Extras
Top Extras
Top level extras cover with highest percentage back.
  • 60 - 100% back
  • $800 dental annual limit per person
  • $850 physiotherapy annual limit per person
  • $300 optical annual limit per person
Enquire Now More info

Can you get health insurance that covers alternative medicine?

Is naturopathy covered by health insurance? Yes, there are many insurers in Australia who cover alternative medicine on their extras policies. While there is cover available, generally you will need to select a reasonably comprehensive policy. Some natural procedures such as physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic treatment may be easier to get rebates for than remedies like herbal medicine or homeopathy.

Every extras policy is different so you'll need to check what naturopathy therapies are covered and how much you'll be able to claim.

For example, you may be wondering, "Does health insurance cover acupuncture?" While one policy might cover the full cost of up to three acupuncture sessions per year, another may cover 90% of your naturopathy costs up to an annual maximum of $2,000.

When you find a health fund that offers naturopathy you should also pay attention to the restrictions. Typically your chosen natural therapist must be a licensed practitioner who is registered with the fund. On occasion the naturopath will need to be a member of an industry group such as the Australian Natural Therapists Association, Naturopathic Practitioners Association or the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.

Which health funds cover naturopathy and what are their limits?

The following health insurance providers all cover naturopathy.

FundWhich products cover naturopathy?What limits apply?More info
 hifSaver, Special, Super or Premium Extras$100/year per person with Saver, up to $600/year per person with Premium.More info
ahmLifestyle Extras$400/year per person, $800/year per familyMore info
Australian UnityGold Extras and Platinum 80%$350 and $400 per person respectivelyMore info
GMHBASilver or Gold Extras$300/year per person and $600/year per family with Silver, $350/year per person and $700/year per family with GoldMore info
HCFBronze, Silver or Gold Extras$100/year per person and $200/year per policy with Bronze, up to a maximum of $400/year per person with GoldMore info
health.com.auExtras 50$400/year per policyMore info
nibTop Extras$400/year per policyMore info
Transport HealthTop Extras$600/year per person, $1200/year per policyMore info
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How does naturopathic treatment work?

Some of the more popular alternative therapies covered by health insurance extras include:

  • Acupuncture. A core part of traditional Chinese medicine, this is a type of therapeutic massage carried out with exceptionally fine needles. Practitioners use it for almost any ailment and many people report good results from acupuncture.
  • Herbal medicine. Herbal medicines vary widely in efficacy, price, purpose and whether or not they’re covered by health insurance. They are frequently used as alternative or complementary treatments for purposes such as alleviating the nausea associated with chemotherapy, relieving pain in people who are allergic to or prefer not to use typical painkillers and for lifestyle issues such as acne, and poor digestion.
  • Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic oils that are deployed through topical application, inhalation or immersion. Different oils are believed to have different effects, and they are thought to promote overall good health.
  • Health and lifestyle services. This can include things like yoga, pilates and diet consultations. Insurers may subsidise some of these, while others can be covered with naturopathy as an ancillary health insurance option.

Should you get extra cover for naturopathy?

If you're a frequent user of natural therapies like reflexology or aromatherapy then it can be worth getting ancillary health insurance. You should ask yourself:

      • Do you have any preferred natural remedies? If you do you should check whether those remedies are covered and if there are any limits or restrictions.
      • Is there only one natural therapist for you? If there's only one provider that gets the right results, you should check which funds they're approved by. If they aren't approved by your insurer you won't be able to claim for their services.
      • How much treatment do you need? Perhaps you swear by natural therapy and prefer to avoid allopathic (mainstream) medical procedures wherever possible, or maybe you have come to depend on your weekly acupuncture sessions. Work out how many natural therapy sessions you typically undergo each year and double check to make sure your ancillary health insurance covers enough to make it worthwhile.
      • Are you using holistic medicine to manage chronic illness? If alternative remedies are keeping your ailments at bay then you may be eligible for chronic disease management programs with your health insurance provider.
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How do you claim naturopathy on your health insurance?

If you intend to claim alternative treatments and natural therapies on your health insurance there are some things you need to be sure of first:

      • Is the provider approved by your fund? Your healthcare provider must be approved by the fund. You can usually find the conditions of approval on your insurer's website or you can ask the practitioner whether they are approved by a specific health fund that you are considering.
      • Is there a maximum claim amount? You will only be able to claim holistic therapies up to the limit of your policy. Many policies will use a combination of a maximum number of visits per year, a maximum cost covered or portion of costs being paid by the health fund. Your health insurance provider may have more than one of these restrictions.
      • Are there any restrictions for who can claim? Some policies only provide cover if you're seeking naturopathic treatment for an eligible health issue. Typically this requires a particular remedy to be a recognised treatment for that specific condition.

Follow these steps to claim naturopathy on your health insurance:

  1. Confirm that your treatment and practitioner are eligible for cover under your health insurance policy.
  2. Get an itemised receipt for the treatment or therapy that shows your expenses and a breakdown of what they were for. You may need this information to fill out a claims form.
  3. After the session make a claim. If you have a membership card it can be as simple as using this to pay the practitioner directly at the time. Otherwise you can generally make a claim online at your insurer's website, or you may have to fill out a claims form and mail it to your insurance provider.
  4. Be aware of the limits of your cover when making a claim, and be mindful of any restrictions that may apply. You will be required to pay the full cost of any naturopathic treatments that fall outside of your insurer's rules.
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What to look for in your health insurance policy

Find the exclusions

This is what is not covered. Some common exclusions you may encounter include:

      • No cover for treatments or services received outside of Australia
      • No cover if there is not a specific health condition being treated
      • No cover if your benefit limit has been reached
      • No cover for additional fees, like administration costs, involved in your treatment
      • No cover if your application or claims form contains false or inaccurate information

Be aware of limits

All health insurance policies will have specific limits:

      • Cost limits. Cost limits where the insurer will not pay more than a certain dollar amount per year, per treatment and/or over the policy's lifetime
      • Session limits. Session limits where the insurer will not pay for more than a certain number of treatment sessions. These can be per year, per month or over the policy's lifespan
      • Per person or family limits. There may be a certain number of claims allowed per person, or per family in the case of family policies
      • Lifetime limits. This is the total cumulative benefit you can claim over your policy's lifespan, regardless of renewal

How much is the excess?

This is an additional amount you must pay when making a claim. Some policies require you to pay the total excess of all claims annually while others may require it whenever you make a claim. Not all insurers have the same excess structures, so check your policy to know how much you have to pay:

      • Overall excess. This standard excess applies to all claims made by you and is typically deducted from benefits paid. These may count towards your limits.
      • Extras excess. This applies to claims made on ancillary or extras cover and is usually a separate fee that counts towards limits.
      • Hospital excess. This is payable if you or someone else on your policy goes to hospital. It may be for each visit, just a single payment for one or more visits, or might not even apply to you. Check your insurance policy for a hospital excess to find out.
      • Special excess. Depending on your personal situation, there may be a special excess. This might be an additional cost for things like cover of pre-existing conditions, ongoing health issues or an expansive claims history.
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What else should you know about naturopathy and health insurance?

An increasing number of insurers are recognising the health effects of certain naturopathic treatments and policies are frequently being updated in order to adapt to advancing medical knowledge. You should stay abreast of any revisions and be mindful of how they may impact your naturopathy health insurance extras, particularly how they affect seniors and over 65s, or holders of couples or family health insurance.

Similarly, if you're looking for a provider that covers additional alternative medicines or a specific remedy then it can be worth looking around and comparing health insurance policies. There are a lot of potential advantages to finding a new health insurance company and you probably know better than most that it's always worth keeping an open mind.

Compare you health insurance options online or with help from an adviser

Picture: Shutterstock

Andrew Munro

Andrew writes for finder.com.au, comparing products, writing guides, sniffing out deals and looking for new ways to help people get the most out of their money.

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