Naturopathy & Private Health Insurance Reforms

2 March 2019

If you or your family and friends have benefited from naturopathic health care, please write to Minister Hunt sharing your experience. Your health, Your Choice a collaboration of practitioner and consumer groups has made this easier by providing an electronic template that will be sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt, your state Liberal Nation Party (LNP) Senator/s and if you are in a LNP seat, your local federal member.

The Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA)

The Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA) has been instrumental and genuinely effective in continuing to argue the case for Naturopathy and Western herbalism coverage, with a meeting in Canberra with Minister Hunt:

One of the major arguments instrumental in Naturopathy & Herbal Medicine removal from private health rebate centred around the quantity and quality of research pertaining to naturopathic practice. A downstream effect of these reforms is their effect on the very research that is key to the advancement of naturopathic practice. An interview on Radio National Life Matters with researcher and academic Jon Wardle can be heard here:

If you’ve got the time, you can write as little or as much as you want. By way of example here is my letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt…

To Health Minister Greg Hunt…

“Since the Natural Therapies Review in 2013 the evidence for whole-system naturopathic practice has continued to increase. Even in the absence of having specific university departments, naturopaths are the most active complementary medicine profession involved in research in Australia, with more naturopaths undertaking research higher degree programs at Australian universities than any other complementary medicine profession. Qualified, experienced naturopaths make a significant contribution to preventative health care, particularly in the absence of a dedicated federal plan (e.g did the Department of Health genuinely pick up the baton of the dissolved Australian National Preventive Health Agency)?

Assessment and support of modifiable risk factors that contribute to lifestyle related chronic disease is a hallmark of clinical naturopathic practice. Registration with health funds represented alongside professional association membership, an assurance of safety to the public that any professional with private health rebate status had met certain educational qualifications and was subject to a code of conduct. These private health reforms mean it will be harder for members of the community to identify unqualified naturopaths. Whilst I welcome any federal review that seeks to ensure tax payer money is appropriately allocated, this issue may appear to save a certain amount of federal money in the short-term but it distracts from a greater issue of inadequate preventative healthcare measures and moves away from patient centred collaborative care. 

These changes ultimately restrict healthcare choices by making them less affordable for users of complementary healthcare. These changes have stymied some universities/researchers current and future research. Hospitals and organisations that receive insurance are no longer able to incorporate these therapies, even where there is good evidence.

Could you please consider recent research highlighting the increased number of chronic conditions improved by naturopathic care. The fact that so much research has been conducted since the 2013 Natural Therapies Review, illustrates the direction research is heading. This research is not only international but also illustrates naturopathic practice in the Australian context.

As voters we all go into the upcoming election with issues that are ultimately important to us as individuals and thi is of course one for me, but the groundswell of responses to the reforms is evidence that this is not just an issue for a select few but for many Australian voters.”

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