How does health insurance work for acupuncture?

Summary

  • Australia recognises natural medicine as a legit way of being treated. For that reason, private insurers do offer extras coverage for some natural therapies, acupuncture included.
  • Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical therapy that is mostly used for pain relief treatment, weight loss, pregnancy, fertility, and others.
  • However, individuals should consider some factors first before getting the extras policy for acupuncture and natural medicine, such as waiting periods that can take up to 12 months in some cases.

Natural medicine is up there with the rest of extras that Australians want covered within their private insurance. As opposed to traditional medicine, natural treatments are not as invasive but focus on the pain relief over numerous sessions.

RELATED: What are extras and How to find the best cover that suits you?

There are many popular natural therapies, but acupuncture is probably one of the most known. The procedure might be good for individuals that are trying to release the pressure off their bodies, unless, of course, they suffer from trypanophobia (phobia of needles).

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a Chinese natural medicine method, that uses tiny needles for relieving tension and pain. The procedure is popular with all generations that suffer extreme pain but is frowned upon and questioned by Western medicine.

A licensed acupuncturist inserts the needles into the specific parts of the body, depending on how deep the pain is. In rare cases, the needles may rupture internal organs and cause infections, bleeding, soreness, and bruising in some persons.

However, acupuncture has proven to be effective for many individuals, even though there is no scientific evidence that explains the positive outcome. Health specialists never recommend acupuncture as the only treatment but advise it in cases when individuals cannot receive pain killers due to the unique situation.

     Image Source: © Kalkine Group 2020

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How does it work?

According to the ancient Chinese, the body equilibrium is restored when there is a balance between yin and yang, two famous opposites from the Chinese culture. The Chinese believe that pain and illness occur in the body because of the disbalance between the two.

Acupuncturists put needles in the human body because it is believed to bring the equilibrium back. As mentioned before, none of these beliefs are methodically proven, yet there is some evidence that confirms that acupuncture has genuinely helped with some conditions.

When trying to explain how acupuncture works, scientists usually find connections with neuroscience. The treatment is thought to inflict tensions in the neurological system, causing the nerves to relax and reduce pain.

Is acupuncture covered by private health insurance?

The good news for everyone who likes to undergo acupuncture treatments is that private insurers offer extras for some natural medicine, including acupuncture. Acupuncture can be covered as extras alone or taken as an addition to the standard hospital policy.

The easiest way to check if an individual is covered for acupuncture is to examine the extras blueprint under ‘natural medicine’ paragraph. If acupuncture is one of the covered treatments, it will say so under that section.

What should be considered before committing to acupuncture cover?

  • Certified acupuncture expert – Not every acupuncturist is a certified specialist under the Australian Guidelines for Traditional Chinese Medicine Education. The practitioner must have a degree (either bachelor’s in health science (Acupuncture) or an equivalent degree from abroad) that is compliant with the guidelines. Private insurers take advantage of that and do not cover for costs with self-learnt Therefore, make sure the desired specialist is appropriately registered.
  • Waiting periods – Private insurers usually apply a two-month waiting period for natural therapies if the individual takes out the extras policy for the first time. In some circumstances, the insurer might waive the waiting period if the person already possesses a similar extras policy and later shifts to a new private health insurance company.
  • Combined extras – This part can be delicate, as combined extras generally offer a set amount of returns for each medical service. For example, the total return might be A$1,000, but within that cap, natural medicine might have a A$100 limit. Before getting caught in this trick, be aware it might happen with the insurance policy. That is also called annual limits.
  • Other prescriptions – Acupuncturists can make further suggestions and prescribe additional therapy for some clients. The treatment can come in various forms like healing tea etc., but the insurers do not deem them necessary for their coverage.

DO READ: What are the top healthcare insurance providers in Australia?

When should one go for acupuncture?

People should include acupuncture as supplementary care that is an extension to the existing hospital care. Notably, it has been found that the following conditions can be well-maintained by acupunctural treatments:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Digestive difficulties
  • Arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Constipation
  • Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ) – jaw pain
  • Carpal tunnel

Are there other conditions that acupuncture can make better?

Throughout thousands of years, the Chinese had enough time to do their own research about acupuncture advantages. Apart from pain and common conditions, acupuncture can help with other situations as well.

            Pregnancy

Even though many women enjoy their pregnancy as it sets the tone for welcoming their children into the world, pregnancy can be a bad time in case of severe discomfort and nausea. Acupuncture showed that it could be beneficial for both mother and the baby, depending on which trimester is in question:

  • First trimester – The first trimester is the riskiest of them all, with the highest chance of a possible miscarriage. It is also infamous for morning sicknesses because the body is still adjusting to carrying another life. However, acupuncture can help with releasing body tensions and prevent miscarriage.
  • Second trimester – There are usually not many problems during the second trimesters so future mothers can relax.
  • Third trimester – Acupuncture can make the body ready for many changes that occur during the third trimester, as well as prepare the mother for the delivery.
  • After birth – After the body goes through an aggressive experience such as birth, acupuncture might reduce the discomfort and boost the recovery.

Fertility

Acupuncturists can increase women’s chances of getting pregnant by placing needles around the uterus. By doing so, acupuncture stimulates the blood flow that ultimately leads to better fertility. The same applies for in vitro fertilisation.

Apart from women, men can also participate in acupuncture treatments, as their energy levels and stamina can go high, which boosts fertility.

            Weight loss

There is a five-stage technique that can stimulate organs to get back on track and reach normal weight. Stress and anxiety are the worst triggers to weight loss. Acupuncture can do the following:

  • Trigger hunger,
  • Affect the stomach,
  • Stimulate the spleen,
  • Encourage digestive hormones,
  • And release pain and addiction.

Anxiety

Acupuncture is popular for treating mental problems; hence scientists often connect it with the neurological system. For each anxious problem, acupuncture has a solution, and acupuncturists have detailed knowledge about the same.

How to claim acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be claimed like any other extras – online or at the practitioner. However, not all acupuncturists offer this service so applying online might be the best idea. If there is the option of swiping one’s membership card one can use it and get the amount equivalent to the insurer’s portion from the total bill.

Most insurers partially claim for the treatment, with some out-of-pocket costs remaining. However, something is better than nothing.

It is worth noting that acupuncture treatment is not covered by Medicare. However, one may be eligible for a nominal rebate if one’s procedure is performed as part of a private consultation.

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