Medicare offers very little in terms of alternative therapies, other than acupuncture as part of a GP consultation. This means that you’ll need to have health insurance Extras cover to avoid out-of-pocket costs if alternative/natural therapies are important to you. Here’s what you need to know about using Extras cover for accessing alternative therapies services. This post is brought to you by Health Insurance Comparison.
What Kind of Alternative Therapies Are Available on Extras Cover?
A lot will depend on your health fund. Some policies are more generous than others in terms of what they will cover and depending on the health fund, you may be able to claim on things like acupuncture, aromatherapy, remedial massage, reflexology, shiatsu and Chinese herbalism. If you want to access a range of treatments, it’s definitely worth shopping around to see what different health funds are prepared to cover.
Who Can I See For Treatments?
Most health funds will require you to see practitioners that are approved by them to be eligible to make a claim. In some cases, this may just mean that they need to be licensed with the relevant professional body but it can be more complicated than this.
Seeing a practitioner that is not recognised by your health fund can mean that your claim is not valid so it’s important to know whether you can see a particular provider through your Extras cover. If you have already chosen a particular practitioner, it’s definitely worth checking to see if they will be recognised by your preferred health fund(s) before you commit yourself to a particular policy.
What Level of Cover Should You Have?
Alternative/Natural/Complementary Therapies will sometimes be available on basic Extras policies but this will not always be the case. Where it is available on basic Extras cover, you can expect to be limited in terms of the annual limits (and therefore, the amount that you can claim for Alternative Therapies per calendar year before you’ll start to incur out-of-pocket costs for future appointments). This is something to think about if you want to have treatments on a fairly regular basis but don’t want to pay out of your own pocket beyond a certain point.
Be aware that some health funds combine alternative therapies with other Extras such as physio, chiro and osteo when it comes to annual limits. This is something to stay away from if you know that you’ll get a lot of use from alternative therapies and may also want to access other services within the same annual limits bracket.
Mid to top level Extras cover is usually more generous in terms of annual limits but this can still be limited to hundreds (rather than thousands) of dollars per year.
Waiting Periods for Extras Services
For the most part, Extras services have waiting periods that you’ll need to serve before you are able to make a claim. This refers to the length of time that you’ll need to have had a particular Extras treatment on your policy before you are eligible to claim. Technically, health funds are able to set their own waiting periods for this but many of them have around a 2 month wait time for alternative therapies.
If you know that you’ll access this type of treatment fairly regularly, it’s therefore best to buy Extras cover or adapt an existing Extras policy to include alternative therapies at least a couple of months before you expect to make a claim to be sure that you won’t have to pay out of your own pocket.
If you’re switching to a different health fund and have already served a waiting period with them for alternative therapies, you shouldn’t have to do this again with your new insurer.
Getting Value for Money
Some health funds offer money back on Extras claims, which is a great way to get the most out of your health insurance if you are confident that the policy on offer will work well for you in terms of the therapies available and the annual limits. At HealthInsuranceComparison.com.au, we compare quotes from some of Australia’s major health funds to help consumers to find the right health insurance policy for their needs and budget.
What is your favourite alternative therapy you would like to claim for?