Health insurance reforms: changes to natural therapies such as yoga


Our health insurance expert, Uta Mihm, answers your questions on claiming for natural therapies.

"I'll no longer be able to claim my yoga fees"


We’ve been speaking to many Australians who are concerned about how the reforms to private health insurance will affect them and their current policies.

Mary*, 60, has a couples policy

"I understand that under the new reforms, I'll no longer be able to claim my yoga fees from my extras policy. I feel this is so unjust because I have a degenerative spinal condition that causes constant neck pain and my doctor recommended I try yoga as an alternative to taking daily anti-inflammatory medication. It has really helped me (and means I don't have to take pain relievers), and so I feel it's a genuine claim against my health policy. 

Yoga classes help relieve the pain associated with my spinal condition - I think it’s wrong that you’re no longer able to claim for natural therapies

"I think it's wrong that people will no longer be able to do this! I also don't understand why my fund says that the decision to remove these therapies came from the Australian government – I always thought that private health funds were just that – private organisations."

CHOICE health insurance expert, Uta Mihm, says

"Private health insurers in Australia are regulated by the government and consequently must comply with standards and reforms. Under these new reforms, it's correct that you can no longer get cover for yoga, pilates or tai chi.

"While people like yourself find yoga to be useful, unfortunately no clear scientific evidence has been found to show that these types of treatment have any medical benefit. Therapies such as naturopathy and homeopathy will also no longer be covered by extras policies – however acupuncture, myotherapy and remedial massage will still be covered.

Since your doctor recommended exercise to relieve your spinal condition, ask them about a health management plan which can give you five Medicare-funded physiotherapy sessions

"A way around this is to try to find a fund and policy that covers exercise physiology, offers discounts for gym memberships (where you can take yoga classes) or covers physiotherapy classes for pilates-type exercises suited to your particular health condition.  

"Since your doctor recommended exercise to relieve your spinal condition, ask them about a health management plan which can give you five Medicare-funded physiotherapy sessions. Some health funds also offer benefits for exercise classes if recommended by a health professional."

Do you have a question about the changes to health insurance? Visit the CHOICE Community.

Find out more about the changes to health insurance or how to switch insurers.

*Not her real name.


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