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Your Private Health Insurance Rebate Changes – The Truth

So everyone is getting their letters about their private heath insurance rebate changes with natural therapies being removed.  Not surprisingly, not one person I’ve spoken to is getting a reduction on their premium.  I predicted this in my blog in May 2018. The average increase announced by the government for 2019 was 3.25%.  In reality, people are saying to me their increase is about 5%.

Wait a minute!  What???

Yes, that’s right, you are going to be charged more money for less benefits.

Nothing could have been more predictable than this outcome.  This quote is directly from health.gov.au:

Changing coverage for the excluded natural therapies will remove costs from the system and contribute to reducing private health insurance premium growth.

Now, the average increase this year is 3.25%, arguably less than the 5 year average, HOWEVER, this means many health funds are increasing their premiums by more than this.  When you add in that consumers are having to increase coverage levels in some cases to get the same amount of coverage for certain things, that’s more and more money coming out of your pocket.  When you also factor in that you are paying more, and getting less benefits, you are definitely paying more for less.

Why?

This decision was a result of a National Health and Medical Research Centre report into homeopathy.  Now I am absolutely a fan of evidence-based medicine, it’s definitely important to use things that work.  What we forget is that evidence is not just theory and papers, it’s actual clinical experience.  I can tell you clinically that holding a particular acupressure point resolves a headache.  I can also tell you clinically that using peppermint oil at the same time makes it resolve faster. But I don’t have a research paper for this, and no scientist has ever asked me to be studied for it.

Also, research is expensive.  Natural therapists simply do not have the infrastructure or the deep pockets of conventional medicine to conduct this research.  Charlie Goldsmith is having a study done on him, and that alone is $150,000 USD.  It would be wonderful if our government would properly fund unbiased research. 

Which brings me back to the NHMRC report.  It was completed, and found to be in favour of homeopathy.  Then, as I understand it, the homeopaths on the panel and the research team were terminated, the paper was rewritten, and released in favour of homeopathy not working.  It is currently before the Ombudsman, being investigated for scientific fraud.

In the meantime, the government has continued down the path of these private health fund rebate changes for natural therapies of the basis of a report that is very much tainted, and also on the basis of no research, which has not been funded.

In addition, the claim is that it will make it ultimately cheaper for you, as the consumer.  Yet you are paying more for less.  How does that benefit you? It doesn’t.  Not in the slightest.

The facts

  • 64% of Australians use natural therapies at least once a year
  • Less than 1% of all private health insurance rebates paid out are for natural therapies
  • There were 69.2 million visits to a natural therapist in a 12 month period.  That’s 3 visits for every Australian, including those that don’t use natural therapies.
  • The government funds and registers 240 separate training organisations.  Why would they register organisations for training, take money from people, and then tell them their training isn’t worthy?

The risks

There is good and bad in every profession and every organisation in the world – we all know that.  But when your natural health practitioner was able to offer private health insurance rebates, you had knowledge that protected you.  Your natural therapist had done enough training to satisfy the authorities that they were qualified to offer therapy and advice within the scope of their qualifications.  That is not to say that therapists without private health insurance fund rebates are not qualified – so many are, and are wonderful practitioners. 

We have all seen the news reports of the “naturopath” whose advice led to a death.  The naturopath in question wasn’t actually a qualified naturopath.  How will you know now that your health professional is qualified, without private health insurance fund rebates? Personally, I’d be looking for qualifications, and word of mouth referrals.  But this is a problem that the government is creating by the removal of private health insurance fund rebates.

Another risk I see is the burden on an already overburdened health care system.  It can take weeks to get into your doctor of choice.  If you go to the hospital, you are in for a LONG wait.  Sometimes, you can’t get answers.  For people that rely on private health insurance fund rebates, these problems are only going to get worse, because they will not seek any type of preventive medicine.  Where will these people go for help?  Doctors and hospitals, and especially when their condition has moved past where preventive medicine can help.  Where do they go when they can’t get answers?

The other risk is to your hip pocket.  When you see a practitioner a lot, this gap can add up very quickly.  Fortunately, for my style of therapy, clients typically only see me every 2-4 weeks, which makes it much more affordable for them.  For other therapies, where you might go 1-3 times a week, that’s a huge difference in your weekly budget.  This concerns me, because that might cause you to make different choices about preventive medicine.  The last thing I want to see as a practitioner is people’s health getting worse.

What can you do?

NOW is the time.  You need to act now to have any chance of stopping these private health insurance fund rebates.  Elections are just around the corner, and if there is any time to influence the politicians, it is now.  Contact your local members, state and federal.  Contact the candidates for the opposition.  I’ve done this – my local members ignored me.  The state candidate for the opposition met with me and gave up 2 hours of her Sunday to discuss this topic in detail with me – guess who’s getting my vote?

More importantly, and this is the crucial element – fill in the email at this link AND sign the petition.  You may have signed other petitions and links and so on, but to make a difference, we need one voice, and this is the one. 

Make some noise. 

Have your say. 

Share far and wide. 

Protect your entitlements. 

Stop these private health insurance fund rebate changes.

This really is your last chance – make it count.

KinesiAlice

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