Which health insurers cover remedial massage?

If you’re experiencing niggling aches and pains or are recovering from an injury, it might be worth checking to see if your health insurance policy covers remedial massage.

What is remedial massage?

Remedial massage is used to treat a number of conditions affecting the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body, according to the Australian Natural Therapies Association. It may be beneficial if you have a sports injury or are suffering from pain or an injury in a particular area of your body.

What is the difference between remedial massage and other types of massage?

Remedial massage is different to other types of massage such as Swedish massage, which may be intended for relaxation, rather than for therapeutic purposes. According to the Association of Massage Therapists, remedial massage can assist in rehabilitation, pain and injury management. It can also involve a range of manual therapy techniques, such as deep connective tissue massage and trigger point therapy.

Health insurance policies that cover remedial massage

Remedial massage is covered under most health insurance extras policies. For example, of the extras policies in Canstar’s database, 88.5% provide remedial massage cover. On average, remedial massage is limited to $28 per claim and $230 annually per person.

In terms of cost, the average annual premium on Canstar’s database for a singles hospital and extras policy that covers remedial massage is $2,188. For an extras-only policy with remedial massage cover, the average annual cost is $713.

When calculating these averages, Canstar applied the Australian Government’s private health insurance rebate, base tier for under 65s, of 25.059%. National average premiums are based on state averages weighted by state population of insured persons. All calculations exclude policies designed for visitors and overseas students and corporate policies. Extras calculations include only the policies that are available as a standalone policy.

It’s worth noting that the private health insurers are no longer able to cover certain natural therapies. For example, insurers can no longer cover pilates, yoga and naturopathy. However, remedial massage was not affected by this change.

What are the benefits of remedial massage?

According to Healthdirect Australia, remedial massage health benefits can include:

  • Stimulating blood supply
  • Making joints more mobile
  • Helping to repair damaged tissues
  • Balancing the length, tone and tension of muscles and tendons
  • Restoring the correct position of the bones
  • Increasing blood flow
  • Helping to heal injuries

Wider health problems that may be treated with remedial massage include sporting injuries, muscle cramps, whiplash, muscular atrophy, fibrositis, spondylitis and arthritis. Headaches, abdominal pain, low back pain and sciatic pain can also be improved by easing and stabilising the muscles, according to Healthdirect Australia.

Is remedial massage covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover remedial massage. Medicare covers some hospital, medical and pharmaceutical health care costs. For example, it covers the cost of seeing a GP or specialist and getting tests and scans, such as x-rays. It generally does not cover certain costs such as dental, physiotherapy, chiropractic or massage. These are instead covered by private health insurance.

How do I make a claim if I’m covered?

If your health insurance policy covers remedial massage, you can generally make an on-the-spot claim at the time of your treatment by swiping your health fund card through your massage therapist’s HICAPS machine. Once your claim is authorised, you’ll then need to pay any gap between the cost of the treatment and your health fund rebate. Alternatively, you can pay in full and send the receipt to your health fund later online, in person or by post.

To make a claim, your remedial massage provider must generally be recognised by your health fund. Additionally, once you meet the annual benefit limit set by your health insurer, you will need to pay for the full cost of future remedial massage treatments.

This article was originally written by William Jolly. It was reviewed by our Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky and Finance Editor Sean Callery before it was updated, as part of our fact-checking process.

Main image source: Microgen (Shutterstock). 

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The table below displays some of our referral partners’ extras policies for a 30-year-old single female seeking cover in NSW without pregnancy cover. The table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s health insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of products. Canstar may earn a fee for referrals.


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