What do the health fund reforms mean for Bowen therapists?

By Zoe Porter, BTFA

In October 2017, the Australian Federal Government announced major changes to health insurance coming into effect from 1st April, 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 government’s information sheet Changing coverage for some natural therapies states: “This move comes after a recent review by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer found that there was no clear evidence of the efficacy of these therapies.” (www.health.gov.au)

While the Australian government ignores positive evidence and legislates to remove public access to private health insurance rebates for natural therapies, respected medical bodies in other developed countries have released evidence-based guidelines recommending the integrative use of traditional and complementary therapies to treat common health conditions.

How will this affect Bowen Therapists?

You can still practice Bowen therapy, and clients can still use your service, but a rebate for Bowen therapy will no longer be available to your clients. The changes will apply from 1st April 2019.

Rules will be made to remove natural therapies from the definition of general treatment under section 121-10 of the Private Health Insurance Act 2007. Insurers will then not be able to offer benefits for these therapies as part of a complying health insurance policy.

Insurers can offer incentives to purchasers of private health insurance, as long as the incentives meet the requirements of the Private Health Insurance (Complying Product) Rules. These incentives could include services provided by a natural therapist. It will be up to each insurer to decide whether to offer this type of incentive.

Consumers will still be able to choose to access these natural therapies outside the private health insurance system.

Read the government’s Facts Sheets on private health insurance reforms.

What is the BTFA doing?

  • We will be monitoring and keeping you up to date on this issue as information becomes available.
  • We will continue to be a peak association that represents Bowen therapy to government and the wider public.
    We will continue to support our national membership and ensure that our members retain a high standard of professionalism, with a nationally-recognised qualification in Bowen therapy, professional indemnity and public liability insurance, first aid and annual CPE points.
  • The BTFA is proactively working to seek and fund appropriate research into the efficacy of Bowen therapy.
  • Alongside this we will be developing marketing strategies to increase visibility and awareness of the effectiveness of Bowen therapy.

What can BTFA members do?

  • We strongly urge all of our members, their clients, family and friends to sign the online petition at Your Health, Your Choice to protect your right of choice in healthcare. The petition calls for a Senate Inquiry into bias against natural therapies and why Government-funded reports have ignored positive evidence.
  • Fill in this online form that will be sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt as a last-chance effort to save natural therapy rebates
  • We urge you to become as informed and involved as you can.
  • We also recommend each member contribute case studies via our template form for research efficacy. Using this form ensures every therapist is looking at the same information in the same way.

Why should I remain a member of the BTFA?

Below are just a few reasons why it is important to remain a member of a professional association:

  • Maintain your professionalism
  • Keep up with research
  • Opportunity to meet and network with peers
  • Requirement by insurance companies to belong to an industry association
  • Learn new skills
  • Gather information on available courses
  • Give your business added credibility and boost your reputation
  • Support your modality – together we are stronger

Please visit the Your Health Your Choice campaign website for the most up to date information on this campaign.

News articles & further reading

American College of Physicians recommends traditional and complementary therapies as first line treatments for low back pain – Your Health, Your Choice website, 23/01/19
Health insurers cut cover amid reforms – SBS, 11/01/19
UK MPs want complementary, traditional and natural medicine to rescue health system from financial crisis – Your Health, Your Choice website 17/12/18
Private health insurance reforms 2019 – what you need to know – Choice.com.au 29/11/18
Politics or science? The Government review of natural therapies – what you need to know – Your Health, Your Choice website 17/10/18
Health insurance reform to make ‘winners and losers’ – Sydney Morning Herald 11/10/18
Science fact or fiction? Senate exposes NHMRC did not use accepted scientific methods – Your Health, Your Choice website 20/09/18
Private health insurance rankings to give consumers more information about coverage and benchmarks – ABC online 15/07/18
See where the major parties stand on natural therapies – Health Australia Party 14/11/18
Private Health Insurance ‘excluding benefits under the radar’ – Sydney Morning Herald 04/08/18