One of my friends tells me around where she works that lots of the Thai massage shops carry the information that private health insurance refunds are available. Yes, that’s right – select the right extras cover and you can be partly reimbursed for the cost of your fortnightly Thai massage (therapeutic, of course, although health claims unproven).
One of the most appallingly thought-out and executed policy areas of this government (and the previous one) is HEALTH. Peter Dutton as Minister was pathetic, unable to explain even what was being proposed (the copayment – a price signal? saving money? directing money at the mega-medical research fund?) and completely unaware of the details of his policy area.
His mega-department has remained untouched, apart from a homeopathic (geddit?) efficiency dividend. Gosh, even the long-serving secretary, Jane Halton, couldn’t explain to Senators what the department does; she was awaiting an upgraded computer system (laughter accompanying these remarks).
BUT HERE ARE TWO PIECES OF LOW HANGING POLICY FRUIT:
REMOVE THE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE REBATE FROM EXTRAS COVER (INCLUDING ALL THESE UNPROVEN ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES);
THE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE REBATE SHOULD ONLY APPLY TO COMPREHENSIVE PRIVATE HOSPITAL COVER (AND NOT FOR PRIVATE TREATMENT IN PUBLIC HOSPITALS).
And just think about, these changes could save the long-suffering taxpayer some money and ensure that the rebate is doing what it was intended to do – take pressure off public hospitals. It is a no-brainer.
No doubt, all the providers funded by the extras cover will squeal. Who cares? They clearly have been pushing up their fees. In any case, just tell them to suck it up. The private demand for their services will continue and if people want to throw away their own money, that is their business.
(Check out the last sentence of the article – proves my point.)
Here is a relevant story:
NONE of 17 natural therapies, from aromatherapy to reflexology and yoga, that are covered by health insurers and partially subsidised by the government rebate has been conclusively shown to work on patients.
The finding is contained in a draft Health Department report that will put pressure on the Abbott government either to strip the rebate from policies that cover unproven therapies, or to commit to an expensive research program to resolve the efficacy and effectiveness issue once and for all.
A leaked “confidential draft” of the review, which heralds the end of a long-running review of so-called alternative or complementary medicine, finds little, if any, proof the 17 natural therapies work. The draft was written under the name of Chief Medical Officer Chris Baggoley, with significant input from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
“Based on the evidence considered within the context of this review, there were no health conditions for which there was reliable, high quality evidence that any of the natural therapies considered were clinically effective,’’ the 202-page draft concludes.
“For a few modalities (Alexander technique, massage, tai chi, yoga) there was low to moderate quality evidence that these natural therapies may improve certain health outcomes for a limited number of clinical conditions.
“However, in most cases the quality of the overall body of evidence was not sufficient to enable definite conclusions regarding the clinical effectiveness of these therapies to be drawn.”
Sydney yoga instructor Sarah-Jane Perman, who has been practising the discipline for 15 years, yesterday said her students reported relief from a range of physical ailments and mental diseases.
“People come for these incredible benefits,” Ms Perman said. “Whether it is back pain, depression, anxiety or they are here to rehabilitate injuries, for most injuries (yoga) is way better and cheaper than physiotherapy because you’re giving people tools so they can heal themselves long term.”
Ms Perman said yoga was practised by thousands of Australian and had become a mainstream therapy. “Not subsidising yoga is disempowering people to make good choices about their bodies,” she said.