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Last Updated on 24 March 2018

Health Insurance Cover for Natural and Alternative Health Care

With today’s modern medicine, technological progress powers the health system. Researchers are constantly developing new treatments for illnesses based on cutting edge advances in medical care, and as a result, many lives have been saved.

There are many instances, however, where a patient may decide to forgo regular medical treatment in favour of what’s known as natural or alternative health care, or to utilise such treatment together with modern medicine.

If you don’t want to pay for these services out of pocket, check to see if they may be covered by a private health insurance plan, as otherwise they can become quite costly.

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Why Natural or Alternative?

There are several reasons why someone would choose an alternative health care route when faced with a medical issue. The patient may have tried a standard medical procedure and met with failure. The options then are to continue trying to find a medical remedy or to try something else.

Another reason would be that an individual may prefer to avoid taking certain medicines. For example, some medications may cause side effects that could become severe. Many people believe in the natural resources in the world to provide effective cures and remedies for illnesses.

Although in general there are fewer studies related to the effectiveness of natural and alternative medicine, there exists a large volume of anecdotal evidence supporting its use and effectiveness.

What Treatments Are in This Group?

There are various types of treatments that call under the heading of natural and alternative medicine. Herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, chiropractic care, homeopathy, reflexology, Alexander Technique, Bach Flower remedies and Ayurvedic medicine are some examples, but there are many more. Some of these treatments, such as chiropractic, work with the body to work out any kinks without the use of medication, while others, such as Bach Flower remedies, introduce different supplements that are said to cure various issues. Some seek to target physical ailments, while others are directed at psychological impairments.

Is it Covered by Insurance?

Since these treatments are not considered standard in the medical community, they are not necessarily covered by every private health insurance; but you can often find policies that will cover for them. Alternative therapists who are members of a professional organisation are more likely to be covered by insurance, so bear this criterion in mind when you compare health funds for alternative care. In general, many types of ancillary care even within the framework of normal medicine are only covered in specific packages for extras coverage, and natural and alternative health care may be included.

If you typically enjoy alternative medicine or believe that you may need it in a specific instance, check with different private health funds before you register to see what kinds of ancillary care they cover and whether or not there are extra costs associated with the coverage. While many funds will cover at least some of these services, they may state specific conditions, limitations and exclusions, or extra costs such as excesses. A private health insurance comparison will yield the information you need to make the best decision.

Frequently Asked Questions About Health Insurance

There are three types of health insurance in Australia. They are:

  • Hospital Cover
  • Extras Cover (also known as general or ancillary cover)
  • Ambulance Cover

Hospital cover can ensure any unexpected surgeries, treatments or hospital stays you may require will be covered. With appropriate cover you will have the flexibility to choose your own doctor and the option of receiving treatment in a private hospital.  Most hospital covers allow you to stay in a private room. One other perk is skipping the public hospital systems’ waiting list, which can be lengthy for non emergency treatment.

Extras cover pays benefits for a a range of services, often including treatments and procedures related to the fullowing:

  • Dental/oral health
  • Glasses and contact lenses
  • Podiatry
  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychulogy
  • Acupuncture
  • Remedial massage
  • Chiropractic
  • Hearing aids
  • Travel vaccinations

Ambulance cover, as the name suggests, will cover you should you require emergency ambulance transport. In an emergency, there is enough to worry about. Having the expenses covered for provides security and peace of mind. Many hospital covers include emergency ambulance transport If yours doesn’t, you will need to shop for this separately.

Life is unpredictable. You never know when you might need cover. No matter what life stage you’re in, there’s a policy out there for everyone. You can select as much or as little cover as you want, depending on your health needs and requirements. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind health cover provides.

There is no one answer here. Costs vary across providers and policy types. Just because a policy is cheap, that does not mean it is ‘value for money’ and vise versa. Make sure you check what’s included and excluded in a policy before signing up, as you want to purchase a policy that best fits your specific needs.

Premium: A premium is the price you pay for your insurance policy (it may be paid annually or on an ongoing basis).

Policy: An insurance plan. In other words, it is the type of insurance you choose to select.

Policy Holder: The owner, or ‘holder’ of a policy.

Claim: In the event that you require treatment for a service covered by your policy, you can lodge a claim for reimbursement of all or part of the cost of that treatment.. These days, most claims are submitted electronically by the health care provider (dentist, physio etc)

Lifetime Health Cover: Lifetime Health Cover was put in place to encourage young Australians to seek out and maintain ownership of private health insurance early in their lives. If you do not take out a policy before you turn 31, extra charges will be applied should you take out a policy at a later time.

This means you will pay a 2% loading on top of your premium for every year that passes after you turn 30. For example, if you take out a policy for the first time at age 32, you will be charged 4% of your premium as an extra, then at age 40, 20% and so on, up to a maximum loading of 70%.

The loading is payable for 10 consecutive years of cover - after which it is removed and you premiums will be reduced.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): Medicare offers assistance for Australians with many of their their prescribed medication costs through the PBS. This assistance is in the form of subsidies towards the cost of many medications. You can check if your prescribed medication is on the list of subsidised items here.

Medicare Levy Surcharge: The Medicare Levy Surcharge is an additional charge (tax) applied to single Australian taxpayers who earn over the income threshold of $90,000 per year, or families/couples who earn over $180,000 per year. This surcharge is only applied to those who choose not to have a private health insurance policy.

The surcharge is designed to reduce pressure on the public health system by encouraging those with higher incomes to invest in private health cover.

Private Health Insurance Rebate: The government’s Private Health Insurance rebate lowers premiums for most Australians with private health insurance Older Australians may enjoy an even higher rebate. Our calculator can help you estimate the Government health insurance rebate you may receive.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication

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