The 2015 Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance for Natural Therapies

The 2015 review of the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance (the rebate) for natural therapies (the review), examined the evidence of clinical efficacy, cost effectiveness, safety and quality of natural therapies in scope of the Review.

Page last updated: 21 June 2019

PDF version: Natural Therapies Report (PDF 1011 KB)
Word version: Natural Therapies Report (Word 957 KB)

The then Government tasked the then Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley AO, with undertaking a review of certain natural therapies (including massage therapy) to determine whether or not these therapies should continue to attract the Australian Government Rebate on private health insurance.

On 7 April 2019, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt MP, announced the Liberal National Government would commit up to $2 million to commission an update of the 2015 review.
The update to the review is known as the Natural Therapies Review 2019-20.

The Office of the National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) assisted the Department with the 2015 review in the assessment of submissions and also by supervising the evidence reviews of the in scope natural therapies.

The evidence reviews were undertaken by independent and external expert organisations. Evidence in the submission and evidence reviews was assessed in the context of the NHMRC’s Additional Levels of Evidence and Grades for Recommendations for Developers of Guidelines.

Natural therapies in scope for the 2015 review:

  • Were covered under private health insurance between December 2012 to January 2013 (as compiled from information provided by private health insurers);
  • Were not subsidised directly under Medicare; and
  • Were not provided by a health professional accredited under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
The list of in scope therapies is below:
  • Alexander Technique
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Bowen Therapy
  • Buteyko
  • Feldenkrais
  • Herbalism/Western Herbalism
  • Homeopathy
  • Iridology
  • Kinesiology
  • Massage therapy including:
    • Deep Tissue
    • Lymphatic Drainage
    • Myofascial Release
    • Myotherapy
    • Remedial
    • Shiatsu
    • Sports Therapy
    • Swedish
    • Thai
    • Therapeutic
  • Naturopathy
  • Pilates
  • Reflexology
  • Rolfing
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

Natural Therapy Review Advisory Committee

The ONHMRC’s findings were examined by the Department’s Natural Therapy Review Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee). The Advisory Committee provided advice to the Australian Government about the natural therapies that have been found to be underpinned by an evidence base.

The Advisory Committee was chaired by the Chief Medical Officer and included members from the natural therapy and private health insurance industries, consumers and clinical experts as follows:
  • Professor Chris Baggoley (Chair) - Department of Health and Ageing
  • Dr Raymond Khoury - Australian Traditional Medicine Society
  • Mr Jim Olds - Australian Natural Therapists Association
  • Ms Eta Brand - Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association
  • Mr Greg Kovacs - Private Healthcare Australia
  • Dr Brian Hanning - Health Insurance Restricted Membership Association of Australia
  • Dr Ken Harvey - Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  • Ms Alison Marcus - Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  • Professor Paul Glasziou - Technical expert (Medical)
  • Ms Debbie Rigby - Technical expert (Pharmacy)
  • Mr Glen Ruscoe - Technical expert (Physiotherapy)
The Advisory Committee Terms of Reference are available at the archive of the Department's website.

Submissions to the Review

The Department received 46 submissions in relation to the Review. Submissions were invited from key organisations and were required to include evidence that demonstrates the clinical efficacy, cost effectiveness, safety and quality of in scope natural therapies. Submissions by non-invited organisations were also accepted.

Further information

For further information about the update to the 2015 review please see Minister Hunt's announcement or email Private Health.