Last week in Australia the government delivered it’s latest budget and promised surpluses
in certain areas and one area that will possibly affect many of my clients is the following:
This is a cut and paste from the budget report…
Expense Measures Health and Ageing – Private Health Insurance Review of Rebate for ‘Natural Therapies:
“The Government will undertake a review of the Private Health Insurance rebate for natural therapies. The review, which will be overseen by the Chief Medical Officer, will examine the evidence of clinical efficacy, cost effectiveness and safety and quality of these natural therapies.
Following the completion of the review, the Government will introduce through regulation a list of natural therapies that will continue to receive the private health insurance rebate. Natural therapies not included on this list will no longer be eligible for the rebate.
Funding of $1.0 million will be provided to the Department of Health and Ageing in 2012-13 to undertake the review. The savings for this measure are not for publication until the completion of the review.”
What is insulting as a health care practitioner with a degree in health science, a post grad in critical care nursing and a diploma in pharmaceuticals is the fact that I have to “PROVE” what I do has “evidence, cost effectiveness, safety and quality”.
Seriously – I am more than happy to stand infront of the nation and have a debate on this one.
What most Australian’s are not aware of are the following:
- Most polititians in Australia are lawyers, doctors or Uni graduates that have little experience in small business (I think you can work out who gravitates to which party)
- Doctors have had a “thing” against complimentary health practitioners in Australia since the 1950s when the AMA formed and have passed legislation over the past few decades to make physios, chiros, midwives, nurses, pharmacists and all comp medicine practitioners subordinate. Ie – to get any financial recognition or re-imbursement for health in Australia (despite us having “free health care”) you have to use a doctor as your primary point of contact.
- All complimentary modalities in Australia MUST comply with very strict rules, education and requirements before they receive “registration” and each year there is ongoing education, first aid etc… to keep this registration
- The government (TGA) has recognised over years that massage, naturopathy, nutrition, acupuncture, chiro etc.. all have sound, proven and efficacy clinical results, hence why the registry bodies are regulating this and keeping the skills of declared health practitioners up-to-date (surely this current enquiry is a waste of money)
- If the debate comes down to evidence based medicine – bring it on. Being a nurse, drug rep for 9 years and now a naturopath – I can tell you EXACTLY what practices have evidence and what doesn’t. I think people would be suprised to find out that many medical practices that are considered “standard practice” have little evidence what so ever.
- Cost effectiveness: most complimentary practitioners I know, educate and take time to find out why people don’t want to substitute negative habits for more positive ones. We establish rapport, listen to our patients and help them make life long commitments to HEALTH . For example, showing people how to control their eating, select good nutritious foods, is far more powerful than putting them on a “diet”. I actually believe if there was an enquiry into obesity – and who makes the biggest difference – you will find it is personal trainers and naturopaths/nutritionists. Neither of these professionals are supported by the government, yet they are making the difference and saving the health budgets millions.
- Clinical outcomes: I see results with people who embrace health EVERY DAY. I don’t see the same dramatic health improvements in people who jump on the surgery/pharma turn table. Let’s take high cholesterol for an example.
High cholesterol (aside from heredity cases) is often due to stress (high cortisol), poor diet and low activity levels.
Medical managment: cholesterol lowering agent (and supposedly recommending a 6 week diet improvement course?!#). Outcome: patient stays on drug for the rest of their life, often people don’t lose weight, they certainly rarely are told about the stress connection and it cost the Australian gov approx $120 per month for the rest of that person’s life. High cholesterol is a insight that the person is a sitting duck for high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular health issues and they NEED intervention other than a drug. The other interesting thing is that the Heart Foundation has been lowering
“goal cholesterol” levels over the last 10 years. There is now a “lower is better” mentality with cholesterol. The only way to achieve these recommended goals is by having your patient on a drug. And I understand that doctors don’t want to be sued, so of course they will put patients on a medication.
Complimentary practitioners managment: Work with the person to find out why they are stressed, time management, lifestyle coaching, exercise and dietary recommendations. And they also have the use of natural and proven cholesterol lowering medications that the patient pays for , not the government.
Which scenario is serving our community better do you think?
- And finally if we are talking about “saftey” – I have never seen or had one of my patients (a database of 3000 patients) suffer with a gastro intestinal bleed, develop a blood clotting problem or fainted due to ANY of my natural recommendations. BUT I CAN TELL you first hand there are many side effects and DEADLY consequences of surgery and pharmaceuticals. Just because we “warn patients” in medicine of the risks, doesn’t make it safe. So natural is safer by a country mile. Infact, drug related deaths is the 4 th leading cause of death in the USA…. SAFETY debate… bring it on.
Please feel free to leave your comments….