Australia ends insurance subsidies for naturopathy, homeopathy, and more

Posted 23 October 2017

The Australian government has eliminated the insurance subsidy for 17 alternative health practices due to a lack of evidence for efficacy.

An article by Scott Gavura, published in Science Based Medicine, makes the following points (extracts):

Public health care systems face criticism when they spend money on treatments that don’t work. With ageing populations and the rising cost of treatments, there’s more and more scrutiny of what these programs pay for. One of the most effective ways that insurance programs can reduce the use of a health service or treatment is to simply stop paying for it. But this is relatively uncommon, because once a benefit’s in place, there tends to be a lot of resistance to change – even if the move was wrongheaded to begin with. That’s one of the (many) reasons this blog has been critical of permitting the licensing of alternative-to-health providers like homeopaths and naturopaths. Legislation gives the alternative medicine a veneer of legitimacy (scientific or otherwise), and this legislative alchemy is the first step towards insurance coverage.

The review evaluated the following treatments:

  • ◾Alexander technique
  • ◾Aromatherapy
  • ◾Bowen therapy
  • ◾Buteyko
  • ◾Feldenkrais
  • ◾Herbalism/western herbalism (Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine were excluded from the review)
  • ◾Homeopathy
  • ◾Iridology
  • ◾Kinesiology
  • ◾Massage or manual therapies
  • ◾Naturopathy
  • ◾Pilates
  • ◾Reflexology
  • ◾Rolfing
  • ◾Shiatsu
  • ◾Tai chi
  • ◾Yoga

Not surprisingly, based on the report, the Australian government has now removed coverage for all 17 therapies studied in the initial review.

Read the full article at Science Based Medicine for context, and nuances

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