Natural therapies and private health cover

The recent removal of 16 natural therapies from the list of treatments approved for private health insurance rebates is one of the most significant measures to affect the Australian natural health landscape in decades.

In the aftermath of the ruling, many therapists are trying to understand the impact of the changes upon their business and clientele and what the future holds for private health cover rebates. What can therapists do to minimise any impact and how worried should they be? What is being done to reverse this decision and where do we go to from here?

ANTA’s overview of the private health reforms

Executive Officer and Company Secretary of ANTA (Australian Natural Therapists Association), Jim Olds, was ANTA’s representative on the Australian government’s Natural Therapies Review and Assessment Committee, the advisory group formed to undertake the review of the Australian government rebate on private health insurance for natural therapies.

Olds, a former ANTA board member for 19 years and a clinical practitioner (in myotherapy, remedial massage and nutrition) for 28 years, says the excluded therapies were chosen from an original list of 31 items listed for review.

“Rules have been made to exclude these natural therapies from the definition of general treatment under section 121–10 of the Private Health Insurance Act 2007,” he says. “Insurers will then not be able to offer benefits for these therapies as part of a complying health insurance policy.”

Effective from 1 April this year, the following modalities were excluded: Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, Western herbalism, homeopathy, iridology,

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