Natural therapies stripped of benefits

Health funds are no longer paying benefits for natural therapies that aren't backed by medical evidence.

'Evidence lacking'

Natural therapies like homeopathy, naturopathy, Pilates and yoga will no longer be covered by your extras policy under government changes to private health insurance coming into effect 1 April 2019. 

Remedial massage, myotherapy, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine will still be covered by many extras health insurance policies.

If you want to keep cover for exercise classes:

  • choose a fund that has negotiated discounts with gyms for their members 
  • a policy that covers exercise physiology and physiotherapy including Pilates-type exercise classes tailored for your health condition and provided by a registered physiotherapist.

For more information on what to do if your health insurance policy has changed, read our guide on how to read the letter from your health fund.

CHOICE tip: If you have a chronic health condition (like a spinal injury), ask your GP to make a health management plan for you. Under this plan you can get five Medicare-subsidised exercise physiology or physiotherapy sessions per year.

Which natural therapies are no longer covered?

The following therapies are no longer covered under private health insurance:

  • Alexander technique
  • aromatherapy
  • Bowen therapy
  • Buteyko
  • Feldenkrais
  • Western herbalism
  • homeopathy
  • iridology
  • kinesiology
  • naturopathy
  • Pilates
  • reflexology
  • Rolfing
  • shiatsu
  • tai chi
  • yoga

Want to find out if you can save on health insurance? Use our easy tool to compare health insurance.

Why are natural therapies no longer covered?

A 2015 government report concluded that 17 natural therapies offered through health insurance hadn't been proven to work on patients. So, under wide-ranging government reforms, these natural therapies are no longer eligible for the rebate on private health insurance premiums. CHOICE supports an evidence-based approach to extras insurance.

"In most cases the quality of the overall body of evidence was not sufficient to enable definite conclusions to be drawn about the clinical effectiveness of the therapies," the report says.

"The natural therapies examined in the review included the Alexander technique, massage, tai chi and yoga, which were found to have some limited supporting evidence. For example, the latter two certainly help to keep people active, but disease prevention is not the focus of this review," says Professor Ken Harvey, one of the two consumer representatives on the review.

More information

For more information about government health insurance reforms see the 5 big changes to private health insurance.