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Is naturopathy covered by health insurance?

When it comes to health and medicine do you prefer alternative therapies? 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. Also known as complementary therapy, naturopathy 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. The medical benefits of naturopathy are largely dependent on the practitioner, the technique and the ailment, and it is usually not considered a primary method of treatment.

Compare health insurance extras that cover naturopathy

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, although you may need to purchase a reasonably comprehensive policy. Similar procedures such as physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment may be easier to get rebates for than herbal medicine or homeopathy.

Every extras policy is different so be sure to check what naturopathy therapies are covered and how much you can claim. For example, 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.

Also be aware of the restrictions that may apply to naturopathy. Typically the natural therapist must be a licensed practitioner who is registered with the fund. The naturopath may also 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 Australian health insurance providers all offer extras policies which cover naturopathy:

Health fundExtras policies and annual benefit limits for naturopathy*Waiting periods
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
health.com.au health insurance
  • Extras 50. $400 per person
  • High. $250 per person
  • Middle. $250 per person
  • Base. $250 per person
  • 2 months
Health Care Insurance
  • Premier Extras. $500 per person
  • Active Life Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
teachers health fund
  • Restricted health fund
  • Top Extras. $600 per person
  • Essential Extras. $400 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
AHM health insurance
  • Lifestyle Extras. $400 per person
  • Super Extras. $400 per person
  • Family Extras. $300 per person
  • No waiting period
Australian Unity
  • Gold Extras. $350 per person
  • 2 months
GMHBA health fund
  • Silver Extras. $300 per person
  • Gold Extras. $350 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
nib health insurance
  • Top Extras. $400 per person
  • Core Wellbeing Extras. $300 per person
  • 2 months
Transport Health insurance
  • Top Extras. $600 per person
  • 2 months

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

Health fundExtras policies and annual benefit limits for naturopathy*Waiting periods
ahm
  • Lifestyle Extras. $400 per person
  • Super Extras. $400 per person
  • Family Extras. $300 per person
  • No waiting period
Australian Unity
  • Gold Extras. $350 per person
  • 2 months
Budget Direct
  • Basic Extras. $400 per person
  • Top Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
Bupa
  • Platinum Extras. $500 per person
  • Gold Extras. $500 per person
  • Silver Extras. $400 per person
  • Your Choice Extras. $500 per person
  • Bronze Extras. $350 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
CUA Health
  • Total Extras. $400 per person
  • Classic Extras. $250 per person
  • Essential Extras. $100 per person
  • 2 months
GMF
  • Complete Extras. $500 per person
  • Mid Extras. $500 per person
  • Lite Extras. $550 per person
  • 2 months
GMHBA
  • Silver Extras. $300 per person
  • Gold Extras. $350 per person
  • 2 months
HBF
  • Flexi Extras. $250 per person
  • Flexi Extras Mid. $300 per person
  • Flexi Extras Plus. $400 per person
  • 2 months
HCF
  • 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 Care Insurance
  • Premier Extras. $500 per person
  • Active Life Extras. $400 per person
  • 2 months
health.com.au
  • Extras 50. $400 per person
  • High. $250 per person
  • Middle. $250 per person
  • Base. $250 per person
  • 2 months
hif
  • Premium Options. $500 per person
  • Super Options. $250 per person
  • Special Options. $100 per person
  • Saver Options. $50 per person
  • 2 months
Latrobe Health Services
  • Premier Gold , Family Care Gold. $250 per person
  • Family Care, 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
nib
  • Top Extras. $400 per person
  • Core Wellbeing Extras. $300 per person
  • 2 months
onemedifund
  • Extras Plus. $435 per person
  • Basic Extras. $350 per person
  • 2 months
Queensland Country Health Fund
  • Essential Extras. $500 per person
  • Premium Extras. $700 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
CBHS health fund
  • Restricted health fund
  • Top Extras. $450 per person
  • Intermediate Extras. $300 per person
  • Essential Extras. $200 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Healthy Options 60% Extras. $500 per person
  • Mid Range Extras. $350 per person
  • Basic 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.

What treatments are considered naturopathic?

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

Should you get extras cover for naturopathy?

If you are a frequent user of natural therapies like reflexology or aromatherapy then it can be worth getting extras health insurance. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering purchasing a policy for these services:

      • 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 is only one provider that gets the right results, you should check which funds they are approved by. If they are not approved by your insurer no claims can be lodged for their services.
      • How much treatment do you need? If you use natural therapy services regularly, work out how many sessions you typically undergo each year and double check to make sure your extras policy 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 able to access chronic disease management programs through your health insurance provider.

What should you be aware of when claiming naturopathy?

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 can only claim holistic therapies up to the limit of your policy. Many policies use a combination of maximum number of visits per year, 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.
      • Can you only claim for a specific condition? Some policies only provide cover if you are seeking naturopathic treatment for an eligible health issue. Typically this requires a particular remedy to be a recognised treatment for that specific condition.

What are the steps for lodging a claim for naturopathy?

While each health fund is different, you should typically have to follow this process to claim naturopathy on your health insurance:

How to submit a naturopathy claimImportant details to remember
Step one. Confirm that the service is claimable.Do this by contacting your health fund to make sure that the treatment and practitioner are eligible for cover under your policy.
Step two. Have the receipt for treatment on hand.You may need documentation that shows your expenses and a breakdown of what they where for in order to fill out your claims form.
Step three. Know the limits and restrictionsIf your policy has limits or restrictions placed on naturopathy you may incur additional costs that have to be paid out of your own pocket.
Step four. Submit the claim to your health fund.If your practitioner has a HICAPS terminal you can claim using your membership card. If not lodge it via your health fund's website or by post.

Terms to look out for when comparing health insurance

When you are researching policies keep an eye out for the following conditions, as these can determine how much you could claim for naturopathy, or whether you can claim for it at all:

  • Exclusions. These are circumstances where a benefit is not paid. Common exclusions include treatment received outside of Australia, claims for a service that has reached its benefit limit and if you used false information on your claims form.
  • Benefit limits. These apply a cap on the amount that can be claimed for treatment. This is usually set as an annual limit but you should watch out for other terms such as cost limits, session limits, per person or family limits and lifetime limits.
  • Excess. This is an additional fee you have to pay before claiming, either as a total amount annually or each time you claim. Excess fees can differ between health funds so be sure to check your policy so you know if one applies or how much it is.

What else should you know about naturopathy and health insurance?

An increasing number of insurers are recognising the positive health effects of certain naturopathic treatments and are updating the policies they offer to reflect this change in attitude. Try to keep up-to-date on any revisions and be mindful of how they may impact your naturopathy health insurance extras, particularly if you are over 65, a couples policyholder or a family policyholder.

Similarly, if you are 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 fund and you probably know better than most that its always worth keeping an open mind.

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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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