Is Australia Moving in a Healthy Direction?

I’m assuming that everyone reading our weekly newsletter is into preventative healthcare in some way, & potentially using complementary therapies like naturopathy / homeopathy / massage / etc as part of their long-term health strategy. Many of you even invest in private health insurance that includes an ‘extras’ policy to help keep these expenses manageable as they arise.

I’m assuming you’re all aware & unimpressed by the recent announcement made by the Australian government to delete some of our favourite natural therapies from the list covered by private health insurance companies on the grounds that:

‘’A review undertaken by the former Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer found there is no clear evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the listed natural therapies:” and “Removing coverage for the listed natural therapies will ensure taxpayer funds are expended appropriately and not directed to therapies lacking evidence”.

The ‘listed natural therapies’ are listed below, & will no longer be covered by your extras policy from April 1st 2019 :(

  1. Alexander technique
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Bowen therapy
  4. Buteyko
  5. Feldenkrais
  6. Herbalism
  7. Homeopathy
  8. Iridology
  9. Kinesiology
  10. Naturopathy
  11. Pilates
  12. Reflexology
  13. Rolfing
  14. Shiatsu
  15. Tai chi
  16. Yoga

Yes, ridiculous I know – click to read it yourself here 

The reasoning is that the cost to tax payers cannot be justified by the proven efficacy of these treatments. I am not an expert in all of the above modalities, but I know enough to know that the above statements are NOT in the long-term best interests of the Australian tax payer at all!!

Efficacious or not?

Like you I’m sure, I personally know many, many people (& am one myself) who’s health has improved dramatically using therapies from the above list. These improvements (in myself, my friends, family & acquaintances) have led to: the avoidance of chronic disease; giving up expensive (tax-payer funded) medication; avoiding (tax payer funded) dr’s appointments, surgery & hospitalisation; plus other very expensive (& tax payer funded) treatments for end stage diseases.

Therapies You Can Measure Easily…

I get it – you can easily measure the ‘efficacy’ of surgery, hospital care & many pharmaceutical medications. You get admitted to hospital with cancer, you have surgery to remove it & the cancer is gone, you ‘recover’ (debatable) in hospital with the help of some medication & return home without cancer. Easy to see & measure the effects of these. But…

And Those You Can’t…

It’s not so easy to prove that a visit or 3 to your local naturopath has prevented you from developing a list of (very expensive) long term chronic diseases. Look at type 2 diabetes, obesity & arthritis – a classic, common trio that we’ll use as an example. This costly combo is just one example of what is completely preventable with early intervention from a switched on natural therapist – a naturopath is much more qualified to give dietary / lifestyle advice than most GP’s.  Many people currently undergoing surgery / taking high doses of medication / unable to work to full capacity due to these chronic diseases would not be in this position had they been under the care of a naturopath as well as a GP 20 yrs ago & started to eat differently & exercise properly rather than just being given a list of meds to swallow, as was standard medical practice in Australia back then.

First – Do No Harm

This is a promise made by every Dr as part of the Hippocratic Oath, & unfortunately broken all too often with the horrendous side effects of medications relied upon, often unnecessarily. We must factor into the expense equation the huge cost to taxpayers of looking after people with ‘iatrogenic disease’. Look it up – ‘iatrogenic disease’ means sickness ’due to the activity of a physician or therapy’, i.e. people who have gotten sicker as a result of their therapist & their treatments. This is extremely common under the modern medical system with its over-reliance on chemical medications with undesirable side effects, but much less so with the gentler ‘listed natural therapies’. Choose pilates for your sore back instead of pain relief meds & avoid the unpleasant side effects (& ongoing dodgy back!!)  But if you can’t claim for the pilates – you’re more likely to just use the NSAID’S & end up with a damaged gut & all the fun after-effects of that!

As I write this, the local radio news playing in the background informs me that “modern day Australians have a long life expectancy, somewhere around 80 yrs, yet on average will spend 10 YEARS OF IT SICK IN BED!!

According to federal treasurer Scott Morrison “We have the third highest life expectancy in the OECD at 82.8 years, but also spend the most years in ill-health. An entire decade, on average, spent on the sick bed. If we had the same level of ‘healthy’ life expectancy as Singapore, Australians would on average live 2.6 years longer.

We have reduced smoking and car accident deaths, but we have one of the highest obesity rates in the world.

We have decreasing rates of disability, but 17.5% of Australians have mental or behavioural problems and we have a suicide rate that is double the rate of the best performing countries.”

Timing! It’s pretty clear with those sad statistics that our current health system is a little ‘off the mark’. The standard Aussie healthcare system (get sick, see a Dr, get some pharmaceuticals / surgery) is something that intelligent Australians are moving away from in droves. They are seeking alternatives not because they are tree-hugging lunatics who love to throw their money away purchasing ‘ineffective treatments’, but because they can clearly see the stupidity of the current system & are looking for something else! Even if they have to pay a LOT more for them – they still want alternatives!

The changes to the private health care system will not only make life harder for us Aussies who are committed to using preventative health care for our families, it will also impact many natural therapy practitioners, their small businesses  & the training institutions & colleges they studied through. We’ll see less Aussies choosing to study in the natural health field & start up their own practice. It’s already expensive to see a naturopath (in comparison to a tax payer funded GP visit to be prescribed tax payer funded meds), that to take away the small rebates currently offered may rule it out as an option for many & make it less viable for practitioners as a business / career choice.

Here’s just one submissions (from the CMA) opposing the changes, submitted in 2013 – a good case but obviously not good enough:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/submission4

The funniest thing is this – the government is trying to encourage more young Aussies to take out private health insurance….so they’ve cleverly axed many of the options that younger Aussies are choosing to use for their healthcare needs, removing some of the very reasons they would wish to purchase an extras policy for – go figure (??)

To me, this move is like investing in more (very expensive) ambulances to keep sending to the bottom of the cliff, while actively removing the protective fencing & warning signs from the top of the cliff!!

The ones who really benefit from this situation are not the Aussie tax payers, but (of course) pharmaceutical companies. They are pretty great at finding new ways to make sure their profits are secure, even when consumer trust is rapidly & continually waning. Just keep making the ‘alternative options’ more difficult / more expensive, & people will be more inclined to depend only upon the pharmaceutical system.

Anyway that’s my rant !!

I’m actually sure that quite a few Australians are intelligent enough to continue to seek preventative healthcare from practitioners that they trust & will pay the extra for it regardless. It’s just unfair that they still have to fork out their tax dollars for the people who didn’t bother to read the warning signs, or climbed over the fences anyway.

If you think this is a bad idea – click and have your say! http://www.atms.com.au/support-natural-medicine/ 

As always please leave me a comment or send me your thoughts via email – I’d love to hear them.

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Brad & Jeanie