There’s little doubt that the interest in treating illnesses and injuries with natural and alternative therapies is growing year by year. But often these treatments aren’t covered by basic health insurance plans. This results in many people sticking to the pharmaceutical products recommended by doctors. If you’re keen to move away from those, here’s some information about a few alternative medicine options, including how insurance fits in.
Types of alternative medicine
Among the most common forms of alternative medicine is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This practice sees the human body as an interconnected energetic system, with a singular flow of energy called qi that brings harmony and health to the body. It’s believed that when the flow is disrupted, diseases and pain will appear. TCM is used to relieve all types of pain, including in the shoulders and back, by increasing blood flow or stimulating muscles and nerves throughout the body.
There are many TCM clinics in Singapore, and they use a wide range of methods including acupuncture, herbal medicine, acupressure and tui na massage. Acupuncture can be used to treat pain in the back, neck, face, shoulders and muscles. The treatment is said to promote self-healing by stimulating certain parts of the body commonly known as “acupuncture points”.
TCM doctors will also look at symptoms and signs such as your posture, the colour of your finger nails and pulse points to get a better understanding of the condition you might have. Instead of a prescription for pills, which you’d get from a Western-style doctor, TCM doctors will typically send you off with a mixture of herbs in the form of a powder to mix with water.
Osteopathy is another popular form of alternative medicine. It emphasises the physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones to relieve back, neck and shoulder pain, and conditions such as arthritis. People with sports injuries often seek help from these types of treatments. During a session, the osteopath will find out more about your medical history and symptoms, and examine you in order to come up with a treatment plan.
Other alternative medicine options include chiropractic, podiatry and homeopathy.
Can health insurance cover alternative medicine costs?
The short answer is yes, they can be covered. But the types of alternative medicine and how much can be covered depend on the plan you’ve signed up for. The most basic plans may exclude these benefits.
Alternative medicine tackles health problems with a long-term vision and it’s likely that you won’t see positive results after just one session. Follow-up visits are often needed. So, it’s important to check the coverage limits of your health insurance plan to find out if they’re sufficient for the number of treatments and follow-ups you require.
Different types of alternative medicines can be covered by your insurer. UEX, for example, covers consultations and treatments provided and prescribed by qualified and registered chiropractors, podiatrists, dieticians, nutritionists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, osteopaths, physiotherapists and TCM practitioners.
Coverage with UEX & AXA
- UEX & AXA Base 4: Up to $1,500
- UEX & AXA Base 5: Up to $5,000
Coverage with UEX & APRIL Insurance
For a maximum of one consultation per day up to the combined limit, these are the coverage levels:
- UEX & APRIL Outpatient Level 1: Up to $100 per visit
- UEX & APRIL Outpatient Level 2: Up to $150 per visit
- UEX & APRIL Outpatient Level 3: Up to $200 per visit
A referral from your attending physician must be submitted at the same time as your claim. However, this referral requirement is waived for the first three sessions of chiropractic, osteopathy, chiropody and podiatry under these policies. And for visits to an acupuncturist, bone setter, Chinese medicine practitioner, naturopath, homeopath or Ayurveda practitioner, you won’t require any referral from your doctor to get reimbursed.
Up to the combined limit, you’ll be able to get full coverage for chiropractor, dietician, chiropodist, osteopath, podiatrist, speech therapist visits with UEX & APRIL Outpatient Level 2 and 3.
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