Will Acupuncture be Covered by Medicare?
Considerable evidence exists for the benefits of acupuncture in the management of pain, and especially chronic pain. Some Australian emergency departments already offer acupuncture when trained staff are available, and several hospitals in Brisbane provide treatments in a limited capacity. Acupuncture is used in many hospitals in western countries such as the United Kingdom, USA, and Sweden, and it is of course widely used in hospitals in many Asian countries, especially China. (There is a hospital in Japan which ONLY uses acupuncture.)
The withdrawal of codeine as an over the counter medication, and the potential opioid crisis, have made acupuncture an even more attractive treatment.
As a result, The Chief Medical Officer has recommended an application be made to the federal Minister for Health for acupuncture to be included in the Chronic Disease Management Program. Under this Program, doctors can refer a patient to an allied health therapist, and Medicare covers part of the cost of the treatment.
Some of the advantages of acupuncture in resolving pain are
- Being drug-free, there is no risk of any drug-related side-effects
- There is no risk of damage to the liver or other organs as there is with many drugs
- There is no risk of addiction
- Some patients cannot or should not take the appropriate drugs
As pharmaceutical drugs kill many more Australians than heroin does, these are important considerations.
The wheels of government turn slowly, but hopefully acupuncture will be included under Medicare soon. This would be fantastic news to all our clients who come to us to resolve their pain.