Is naturopathy covered by health insurance?

Extras health insurance usually covers some naturopathy treatments, but the details vary between policies. Extras coverage that includes natural therapies starts from $14/month.

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Compare extras polices that cover naturopathy

The table below has some extras policies from Finder partners that cover naturopathy, along with heaps of other benefits. This table doesn't include chiropractor and osteopath, as they have their own categories.

Name Product Annual limit Remedial Massage Acupuncture cover Traditional Chinese Medicine Exercise Physiologist Myotherapist Price Per Month Apply
HCF Starter Extras
Medibank Healthy Start Extras
HBF Flex 50
Peoplecare Mid Extras
ahm lifestyle Extras

Compare up to 4 providers

*Quotes are based on single individual with less than $90,000 income and living in Sydney.

What is naturopathy?

Naturopathy is an umbrella term used to describe a type of medicine which relies on natural remedies to improve health. It includes heaps of common treatments, such as remedial massage, acupuncture and Chinese herbalism, plus some you might not have heard of before.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but some common examples of naturopathy include:

  • Alexander technique - Aromatherapy
  • Auriculotherapy - Cupping therapy
  • Herbal medicine - Homeopathy
  • Iridology - Phrenology
  • Reflexology - Remedial massage

What types of services are covered by health funds?

There are a wide range of services available that fall under the umbrella of natural therapies. New health insurance reforms have identified that the following techniques have been shown to be effective, meaning insurers will be able to continue offering them after April 2019 when the reforms go into effect:

  • Acupuncture. Use of needles to stimulate pressure points.
  • Physiotherapy. Injury treatment that uses physical methods like massage, heat and exercise.
  • Exercise physiology. The use of exercise for the management and prevention of disease.
  • Chiropractic. Manipulation of the spinal column and joints to prevent and treat injury.
  • Remedial massage. The use of massage to treat pain and injury in the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Chinese medicine. The treatment of illness, injury and disease using traditional Chinese methods including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage and dietary therapy.

The extent to which these services are covered will depend largely on the insurer and policy.

What naturopathy is not covered by private health insurance?

In 2019, there were significant reforms to private health insurance in Australia. As part of the reforms, some naturopathy treatments were excluded from the definition of general treatment.

This means insurers are no longer obligated to offer these benefits. They can choose to if they wish, usually as an extra incentive for customers, but they're not legally required to.

The specific treatments removed were:

  • Alexander technique - Aromatherapy
  • Bowen therapy - Buteyko
  • Feldenkrais - Western herbalism
  • Homeopathy - Iridology
  • Kinesiology - Naturopathy
  • Pilates - Reflexology
  • Rolfing - Shiatsu
  • Tai chi - Yoga

Waiting periods for natural therapies

Waiting periods do apply for natural therapies. A waiting period is a set amount of time before you can claim a benefit for a particular service. For extras cover, like natural therapies, two months is the typical waiting period before you can claim for most service.

However, insurers sometimes waive these waiting periods to convince you to sign up. Funds are also required to waive the waiting periods if you switch from another insurer where you've already served a waiting period for the same service.

Are chiropractic treatments considered naturopathy?

Yes, chiropractic treatments are considered naturopathy. However, health insurance usually considers chiropractic treatments to be its own category, separate from naturopathy.

That means you'll have separate limits for each section. So if you have $250 to spend every year on naturopathy, you'll have a separate amount to spend on chiropractor appointments.

If you want more information on health insurance which covers chiropractic treatments, you should check out our guide

Is osteopathy considered naturopathy?

Yes, osteopathy is typically considered naturopathy. However, health insurance funds usually give osteopathy its own category which is separate to naturopathy.

This means you'll have separate limits for naturopathy and osteopathy. So if you reach your limit by having heaps of remedial massages, you'll have an entirely separate limit to use if you need to see an osteopath.

What should I know before claiming naturopathy on my health insurance?

Even if your health fund offers a benefit for naturopathy, there are still some details you should double check before going ahead with the treatment. If you're unsure about any of these, you should always contact your insurer directly to check.

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