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Alternatives to natural therapies and remedies

This guide will help you find alternative solutions

A young man chats to his doctor in her office
A young man chats to his doctor in her office

As part of the Government-initiated private health insurance reforms, there are a few industry-wide changes to the way natural therapies are covered by all health insurers.

The natural therapies that nib are no longer be able to pay a benefit for as of 1 April 2019, include Western Herbalism, Naturopathy, Shiatsu, Bowen Therapy, Iridology, Homeopathy, Yoga and Pilates. If you’re with another health fund, other natural therapy exclusions may apply.

What’s still included? Depending on your cover, we’ll continue to pay benefits towards Remedial Massage, Acupuncture and other included services.

These changes are a result of a review chaired by the former Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer that found there is no clear evidence demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of the natural therapies listed for removal.

Of course, you can still continue to see your natural therapist if that’s your preference, however we understand many members are keen to learn what alternatives they have to things that will no longer be covered.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to help you find alternatives that can help, or that you may be able to claim on through some private health insurance products.

Bowen therapy

Bowen therapy uses small movements of different pressures on soft tissue to help relieve muscular and musculoskeletal conditions of the spine.

Alternatives to Bowen therapy:
A visit to a remedial masseuse can help relieve muscular tension. Just make sure you contact us before booking in your massage to ensure the provider is recognised by nib and that you are entitled to receive a benefit before making a claim.


Used to treat a range of common conditions, from digestive issues to skin conditions and general wellbeing, naturopathy uses herbal medicine, homeopathy, dietary and lifestyle advice and massage.

Alternatives to naturopathy:
If you are suffering from a particular symptom, visit your local GP* for personalised health advice.

A young woman smiles as she's seated in front of an array of essential oils


The aim of Pilates is to lengthen and strengthen the major muscles in your body, particularly your core. Because the muscles are never pushed beyond their limits in Pilates, it’s a great option to help those with an injury get back some of their tone.

Alternatives to Pilates:
While you won’t be able to claim on Pilates after 1 April 2019, you might be able to nab a discount for your local Pilates studio through our members-only rewards program. Find out more about how you can save on Pilates through nib Rewards.


Iridologists look to the eyes to reveal information about the health of other parts of your body, including organs and tissues. Practitioners believe your eyes can reflect past health issues and also show your predisposition to developing certain diseases.

Alternatives to iridology:
For checks of your overall health, you can always head to your local GP*.


A form of acupressure founded in Japan, Shiatsu works off the principle that energy moves through channels in your body known as meridians. Receiving Shiatsu therapy generally involves muscle stretching and pressure on your body in an attempt to strengthen your healing abilities and maximise your health.

Alternatives to Shiatsu:
A remedial massage is a great way to help relieve tension in your body and increase blood flow to your muscles. Once again, make sure you contact us before booking in your massage to ensure the provider is recognised by nib and that you are entitled to receive a benefit before you make a claim.

Western herbalism

This therapy uses Native American and European herbs to help treat and prevent illness.

Alternatives to Western herbalism:
If you have particular symptoms you’re concerned about, the best bet is to book an appointment with your GP* who will be able to guide you.

A young woman lunges on the floor on an exercise mat as she works out at home


Yoga combines breath control, meditation and body postures. Some practitioners believe the practise can lower blood pressure and stress levels, and help with physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga exercises are designed to use pressure on your body’s glandular system to help increase its efficiency.

Alternatives to Yoga:
Thanks to nib Rewards, you might be able to receive a discount for your local yoga studio. And while it’s not the same as practising with an instructor, with top-rated apps like Down Dog and Daily Yoga on the rise, you don’t have to leave home to stretch it out.


Homeopathy works on the belief that your body can cure itself, using herbs and minerals to stimulate your body’s healing response to disease. For example, onions are used as a remedy for the common cold because of an onion’s ability to make your eyes water and nose run. Because the onion replicates the symptoms of the cold, it’s believed that taking a potent extract of it will help trigger your body’s natural defence against the cold.

Alternatives to homeopathy:
Depending on the symptoms you’re trying to treat, it’s best to see your GP* for advice and a referral if needed.

At nib, we have a number of Extras covers that include benefits for chiro, physio, osteo and dietary advice. If you’re already a member, you can review your cover using member account. Alternatively, you can get a quote for Extras cover in minutes online.

For more information about these industry changes and how they affect you, check out our private health insurance reforms FAQs.

*If you’re enrolled in Medicare, your GP visit is covered under Medicare, not private health insurance. If you’re concerned about the cost, make sure you check with the clinic prior to your appointment as to whether they will bulk-bill (meaning you won’t pay any fees).