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Health Funds and Remedial Massage

In Australia, many people are encouraged by the tax and health care system to take out private health insurance. For high income earners, they are penalised by a Medicare Levy if they do not register for suitable cover. health fund rebate and massage

If you take out private health insurance then chances are that you will be offered and will probably take up extras packages which will include some degree of cover for things such as physiotherapy, chiropractors, osteopaths, optical, dental and massage. Currently all of the major health funds in Australia, such as BUPA, HCF, Medibank Private, NIB, Grand United, AHM and Australian Unity offer rebates but generally only for remedial massage (ie other massage modalities may not be eligible for rebates).

Occasionally we are asked to provide recommendations about which fund we believe to the best. As we are in the health profession then people suspect that we will be “in-the-know” and assist them with information that can help them make a decision. Unfortunately this is not the case as the optimum choice of health fund will vary very much depending on the individual circumstances. In addition, the best fund can also change from time to time depending on you and any changes in the terms, rebates and fees of the fund.

In addition, even within a specific health fund the level of cover can differ significantly and the only way to work out which health fund is best for you is to look at your individual position and make an assessment as to the level of cover you require.

To be honest, it is rare that rebates for remedial massage should enter significantly into the calculation as there are many more bigger picture items that are likely to govern the decision making process. For example, do you require family care, obstetrics, joint replacements, etc? The amount you will be covered for and the amount of rebates that you would get will be significantly more important than whether you receive $25 or $28 back on your remedial massage. Whilst it is tempting to consider not opting in for cover for particular items to save a few dollars, be mindful that your health insurance should cover you for what you cannot afford to cover yourself. Although you might not think that you will need a joint replacement in the near future, unfortunately you never know what is just around the corner and adding a few dollars a month may save you from a major decision in the future.

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Whilst we do not specifically recommend any particular health fund, I would just like to mention a cool feature that is offered by Australian Unity. If you are a member with them then you can just download their app and whenever you incur a claimable medical charge then all you do is simply send a photo of the receipt and they will automatically transfer the rebate to your account.

  
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Please note that a significant issue with health funds is perceived to be fraudulent claims. Receipts for remedial massage can only issued to a person specifically receiving a remedial massage so if you receive a Swedish/relaxation massage then your therapist will not be able to provide you with a receipt that you can use to claim. Similarly, if your partner is the one getting the massage then we are not allowed to put your name on the receipt, even if you are the one paying for the session.

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By Richard Lane

Soaking Away Your Aches and Pains
Do Epsom Salts Work?

For many people, soaking in a relaxing bath at the end of a busy day is a great way to reduce stress and relieve any muscular aches and pains. Some people claim that the benefits can be enhanced by adding Epsom salts to the bath but others have questioned whether there is any real health benefits that are provided by including salts whilst you soak.

epsom salts in the bath

The proponents and supporters of Epsom salts can that the benefits have been known for hundreds of years and that bathing in Epsom salts is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and ease muscular pains. Other specific claims are that it relaxes the nervous system, provides benefit for the skin (such as treating Athlete’s foot), helps prevention of hardening of the arteries, makes insulin more effective and that it eliminates toxins from the body.

However, the amount of rigorous research that would support these claims varies and, if you pardon the pun, they should be taken with a pinch of salt (particularly any claims associated with removal of toxins and heavy metals from the body as these are likely to be particularly spurious in nature).

It should be mentioned at this point that if you are pregnant then you should always talk to your doctor before considering an Epsom salt soak. If you have any other diseases, conditions or concerns then it might be a good idea to raise the use of Epsom salt baths the next time you speak to them.

Chemically Epsom salts are hydrated magnesium sulphate and there is no doubt that magnesium is important mineral for many health functions in the body. For example, some cramps have been attributed to lack of magnesium in the diet and when cramp sufferers begin to take magnesium supplements then the pain and intensity of their cramps may drop within a relatively short time. (For more information about the importance of magnesium as a mineral check out this article).

Despite all the benefits and claims that you may find if you research Epsom salts, a recent online article has questioned whether or not they do actually deliver. The article itself is a fairly lengthy piece discussing this topic in some details (click here if you wish to read it).

The jist of the argument is that for many years we have “known” that a soak in a Epsom salt bath is good for relieving muscular stress, pain and tension. However, when you look at the science and research that has been carried out then there is very little supporting evidence. In particular, the claim that the body absorbs the magnesium sulphate through the skin is in doubt and the author questions whether there is a plausible mechanism how Epsom salts can have an impact on muscle tissue and function. Osmosis can be ruled out as osmosis, by definition, is the movement of water molecules through a semi-permeable membrane.

  
However, the author does refer to a study performed by Dr R Waring from University of Birmingham in UK who found that people who soaked in an Epsom salt bath had raised levels of magnesium and sulphate in their blood after the bath, although the mechanism of transfer was not determined.

Despite the scepticism about whether a soak in an Epsom salt bath is effective, there are many who frequently resort to a lengthy soak at the end of a stressful or physical day. And as a recent facebook contributor wrote:
“Works great for me, if Epsom doesn’t work for you then it sucks to be you. ;-)”


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