“I am writing today in exasperation that the Federal Government of Australia is cutting out all private health insurance rebates for alternative health practitioners from 2019.
Here is an explanatory letter I found which details it all and contains a link for you to sign a petition if you choose to vote against this.”
Media Response: Private Health Insurance Overhaul
13th October 2017
“The removal of 17 different disciplines of natural therapies from the Private Health Insurance Rebate scheme has been a longstanding discussion; and today it appears that the Turnbull Government’s plan to reduce pressure on the Medicare system, has removed these preventative health therapies from the scheme from 2019.
The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported:
“From 2019, private health insurance will no longer cover natural therapies, including aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi and yoga.”
The allegations made against natural therapies, is that they do not meet the benchmark requirements for interventions funded under the PBSand MBS: the conclusion is that the efficacy of these therapies was not sufficiently demonstrated to warrant taxpayer funding.
However, the preventative nature of natural therapies has been completely overlooked in this movement, as has the overall impact the current 26% rebate has on the Medicare system. We, as practitioners and researchers, know the positive influence natural therapies have on the population who partake in this style of intervention. They not only preserve the health of the individual, but in doing so, reduces the economic burden of healthcare in the long run.
Claims submitted for complementary medicine interventions currently account for less than one percent of all benefits paid by health funds in Australia. Consequently, we can conclude that this contribution is mirrored in the effect on the Medicare scheme.
Conversely, the positive effects of natural medicine, have a much more significant contribution to the economy. Through delving deeper into underlying causes of health problems and diseases, we improve the long-term health of individuals. For the economy, this means that those individuals are less likely to submit claims on their insurance, take less time off work, and have an elevated quality of life, making them our most productive members of society.
Effective, non-invasive treatments, particularly when adopted earlier in life, have the potential to drastically reduce the pressure on the healthcare sector in both the short and long term.
Dr Rachel David, the CEO of Private Healthcare Australia, representing 20 health insurers across Australia, echoed this sentiment in a statement in CHOICE. She stated this reduction in the rebates paid on extras policies not only makes policies immediately more expensive, but results “in less preventative treatment being undertaken and more strain placed on the hospital system.”
Unsurprisingly, 2017 has seen a consistent downward spiral in the number of young people purchasing private health cover. Leaving only those demographics with a higher propensity to submit claims in the market, premium prices have hit an all time high, further emaciating the under 30’s market from the sector.
Three major contradictions are prevalent within this proposed change.
1. The desire is for more under 30’s to join a Health Fund, yet Natural Therapies which align with shifting cultural norms and values, are being withdrawn.
2. Despite a renewed focus on mental health support for Australians, this change directly affects a sector whose primary focus is on mental health assistance.
3. Insurance companies themselves are promoting preventative health measures to their clients as an opportunity reduce their premiums. They know fully the long-term economic benefits of undertaking these practices.
Should these changes come into effect, there will only be a short term saving made on the Government’s part. Long term, the removal of natural and preventative therapies has the potential to have devastating effect on the healthcare sector and hospital system, due to more people being admitted to hospital with chronic diseases that could have been prevented. Thus making private health insurance continue to become less affordable, especially for young adults.
This is a backward and unstainable step against modern healthcare best practices. Medical research points towards preventative action with natural and complimentary medicine playing its part, is the best way to prevent diseases and, more importantly, the most effective way to reduce the economic burden of the health system. A policy like this will make the Medicare and private health insurance system totally unstainable, as our population will not have the resources to partake; or be incentivised to participate in preventive health treatments that natural and complimentary health practices provide and specialise in.
CALL TO ACTION:
1. There is currently an industry petition to challenge these changes (https://www.yourhealthyourchoice.com.au/). This site also has templated letters and emails to share with your local MP and patients. (on the contact us page).
Please review and consider signing the petition on the website.
2. Consider sending the petition link to all your patients, for them to sign ( people power can prevail).
3. Contact your local Member of Parliament to voice your concern.
4. Mobilise your patients to contact their local Member…….. again, people numbers matter to politians.
We trust this is helpful,
Henry Osiecki and Dr Michael Osiecki”
love and light