The potential downstream effects of proposed changes in Australian private health insurance policy: The case for naturopathy
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Advances in Integrative Medicine, 2018, 5 (2), pp. 48 - 51
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The Australian government has recently announced major reforms to the private health insurance (PHI) system. Amongst the changes are the removal of government-subsidised PHI rebates for consultations with most unregistered complementary medicine practitioners, including naturopathy. However, there are several doubts about these reforms, as this commentary explains, which primarily relate to (1) the basis of the decision, and (2) the consequences of the proposed changes. In terms of the former, an insufficient clinical evidence base was claimed to be the main driver of this decision. However, the evidence informing this decision had several limitations, and in the case of naturopathy, was somewhat contradictory. The absence of enforceable standards (from statutory registration) was another factor contributing to the decision; yet, for naturopathy, this has largely been the product of government inaction, rather than a lack of action from the profession. In terms of the downstream effects of these reforms, these could be considerable, including mass membership withdrawal from ancillary (extras) cover and cost-shifting to the public health sector; potentially leading to a rise in PHI premiums, increased demand for general practice services, and a rise in the number of avoidable hospitalisations. The proposed changes also deviate from international standards and declarations, and contravene key performance indicators of a quality health care system. In light of these concerns, the commentary calls for an immediate rethink of the intended PHI reforms, at least for naturopathy.
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