Get cash back for natural therapies with extras cover
With the growing trend towards alternative medicines, many insurers are now also including natural therapies in their extras cover. This pays a benefit towards visits to practitioners in a range of fields including acupuncture, remedial massage, reflexology, homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese herbalism and shiatsu.
This guide looks at which services are covered, what you can expect to get back and which are the best health funds for natural therapies.
Compare cover for natural therapies
You can find natural therapies in extras cover. Below we've highlighted some Finder partners health funds who offer cover for natural therapies. Most policies have a 'combined limit' meaning that amount of includes other treatments too. All the below policies have a separate limit for general dental too, using other services in the policy is a great way to get more value from your premiums.
|Fund||Policy||Included treatments:||Annual Limit||Price per month||Go to Site|
||$150||$30.30||Go to Site|
||$200||$34.50||Go to Site|
|Core and Wellbeing||
||$300||$51.07||Go to Site|
* Prices are based on a single male living in Sydney, NSW.
Find out more about Health Insurance and natural remedies
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.
- Exercise4 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.
As of April 2019, health insurers will no longer be allowed to offer rebates on the following natural therapies and will have to remove them from cover (although they will be allowed to offer you "vouchers" for these services as a marketing tactic to attract your business):
- Alexander technique
- Bowen therapy
- Tai chi
The amount you can claim per year on natural therapies will depend on the level of cover your policy provides. As the policy comparison table illustrates, maximum benefit limits can range from $50 up to $500 or more, but as premium costs are generally higher the greater the benefit paid, you would need to factor in how often you use these services to decide if this cover is right for you.
Generally, there will be out-of-pocket expenses for some natural therapies (the gap between what a practitioner charges and what you can claim back from your insurer), and for those services that don’t qualify for the Private Health Rebate, the amount you pay will be greater. So again, it’s important to weigh up the costs versus the benefits when choosing extras cover for natural therapies.
As with most health insurance policies, waiting periods do apply. A waiting period is a pre-determined amount of time you must wait before being able to claim a benefit for a particular service. Its purpose is to prevent people from joining a fund, claiming for a service and then cancelling their policy; a practice that disadvantages long-term fund members who have paid their dues.
In the case of hospital cover, waiting periods can be 12 months or more, but with extras cover, they are usually only two months (although services such as major dental can be up to 6 months). In the case of natural therapies, two months is the average waiting period before you can claim for a service. However, insurers often waive these waiting periods as a promotional incentive and are required to do so if you have switched from another insurer where you have already served a waiting period for the same service.
It is estimated that more than 70% of Australians now include a form of natural therapy in their overall healthcare, so many people obviously believe such services can be of benefit when used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment.
Many natural therapies treat the mind and body as a whole and this approach may be beneficial for overall wellbeing and the maintenance of good health. While traditional medicine often treats symptoms after the fact, some natural therapies focus on identifying potential illnesses and diseases before they occur, which can be a useful prevention tool, particularly when they promote a healthy lifestyle as part of the preventative treatment.
While the recent government review of natural therapies that attract a Private Health Rebate failed to find enough evidence to suggest that most of these services were beneficial, the conclusion they drew was that a lack of evidence does not necessarily imply a lack of credibility. After all, many natural therapies have been practised for thousands of years in various countries and cultures, so they are obviously perceived as beneficial for many people around the world.
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* The products compared on this page are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market. There is no perfect order or perfect ranking system for the products we list on our Site, so we provide you with the functionality to self-select, re-order and compare products. The initial display order is influenced by a range of factors including conversion rates, product costs and commercial arrangements, so please don't interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. We're happy to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions, but we'd like you to make your own decisions and compare and assess products based on your own preferences, circumstances and needs.