Private health insurance rebates for Bowen Therapy

As per my previous post on the future of private health inurance rebates for Bowen Therapy, the short-sighted federal government has instructed the private health insurers that they are to longer pay rebates on “natural” therapies from April 1st 2019.

The final set of business rules that we saw indicated that there would be room for the insurers to offer policies including natural therapies that didn’t attact the 30% government rebate on premiums, however a different set of rules was published that prohibits paying any rebate at all.

To say we are all disappointed is a huge understatement. And the point of reducing costs to consumers has already fallen over with one person I know receiving a letter from her insurer telling her all the things she can no longer claim, while simultaneously detailing her price rise.

It is somewhat beyond a campaigning stage now. You can ask your local member if they voted for these changes and punish them in the upcoming election if they did. Or, if you have a long memory and recall that this is the end result of changes brought about by John Howard, who wanted us to have an Americanised health system, you can vote according to that as well. You can also sit down and work out if you are getting value for money from your private health insurance. Would you be better moving to a different fund? Would you be better ditching extras cover altogether?

I have already had a few people ask me if I can bill their Bowen Therapy sessions as Remedial Massage. I can’t and I won’t. When you take out a policy with an insurer, you assign your rights in regard to your records. This essentially means that your insurer retains the right to inspect your records at any time, and if I’ve billed Bowen Therapy as Remedial Massage, I’m finished. It is fraud in their eyes and both parties would be liable for that fraud. Please don’t ask.

Changes to private health insurance for Bowen Therapy

Earlier this year the health minister announced changes to private health insurance for “natural” therapies. This includes Bowen Therapy. You may not know this as the announcement was made on a Friday in amongst a raft of other health department announcements.

Essentially, the government wants to remove natural therapies from health insurance policies on which they pay the 30% government rebate. They set a deadline of April 1st 2019 - yes, April Fool’s Day.

The actual business rules set out by the minister have left some wiggle-room though. The rules only state that policies attracting the 30% rebate cannot include these therapies, not that they can’t be covered at all. The Bowen Association Australia has been communicating directly with the major insurers to lobby for the retention of policies outside the government’s reach. Unfortunately, HBF, a WA-based fund, has already jumped and announced that rebates will not be claimable for Bowen from January 1st 2019.

Cutting these therapies is incredibly short-sighted as most of them are used for preventative health that can help keep people out of the medical system for longer. Unfortunately, this scenario was likely from the moment John Howard introduced his carrot-and-stick approach to forcing the populace into private health care.

What can you do? Contact your private health insurer and tell them how much you value being able to access Bowen Therapy, naturopathy or any of the other modalities that are to be cut from your cover. This is now in the hands of the market. If your insurer drops your cover and someone continues their natural therapies cover, vote with your wallet. The politicians may not have listened (although you can still vote them out too!), but shareholders might.

Continuing education for Bowen Therapists

Are you a Bowen Therapist looking for continuing education opportunities? I'll be running Practitioner Days A and B on the 2nd and 3rd of June with a focus on lymphatics. You'll revise all the work from modules 1 to 6, but pick up some new understanding of how the lymphatics work and how you can work with them.

This is eligible for 16 CEUs with BAA and BTAA. It's $400 for the weekend.

I'll be training from my clinic in the Sydney CBD so numbers are limited. I'm close to trains and buses and there's no need to lug a table. There is parking for a flat weekend rate at the Domain Parking Station if required.

Please note that these continuing education workshops are not part of the nationally recognised training, however they are Bowtech-accredited and eligible for continuing education points with Bowen Association Australia.

2018 dates for the Certificate IV in Bowen Therapy 10533NAT

Have you been thinking about a career change? Maybe you've been having Bowen for a while and have thought about sharing its benefits? I'm a registered Bowen Therapy instructor with Bowen Training Australia and The Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia. You can start on the road to becoming a therapist with the Certificate IV in Bowen Therapy 10533NAT, which is a Nationally Recognised Training programme through Bowen Training Australia RTO# 41134. You may choose to progress to the Diploma of Specialised Bowen Therapy 10534NAT on successful completion of the Certificate IV.

The Certificate IV programme consists of seven (7) hands-on modules (each two days) where you learn the practical application of Bowen Therapy. These are the parts you can do with me. There are also distance modules relating to the theory around anatomy, physiology, health and safety and other essential aspects of good practice. You'll also need to attain your first aid certificate along the way. The Certificate IV can be completed part-time in a minimum of one year and up to 18 months. This allows time to complete log-book hours and case studies.

My next round of classes for 2018 are on:

Module 1          24th and 25th of February 2018

Module 2          24th and 25th of March 2018

Module 3          5th and 6th of May 2018

Module 4          16th and 17th of June 2018

Module 5          28th and 29th of July 2018

Module 6          8th and 9th of September 2018

Module 7          27th and 28th of October 2018

More class dates should be up soon.

In the event that you ever can't make a class, you can always take it with another instructor as we are all teaching to a universal syllabus. See the Bowen Training Australia website for more classes and instructors. There's also information there about Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning processes. And, of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

Now is the time to plan out your training for 2018. Get in contact to have a chat!

Rebates for Complementary Therapies

A couple of weeks ago, on Friday the 13th (yes, seriously), the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, quietly announced that the government intended to stop health funds paying rebates on "natural" therapies. This was quietly slipped in to a broader announcement of changes and many media outlets did not even pick up on it. These changes will take effect from April 1st (yes, again, seriously) 2019. This came without any warning to the peak complementary health bodies.

Where did this come from? This all started with John Howard's attempt to force Australians onto a user-pays health system like the US. He had a carrot-and-stick approach of the government paying 30% of private health insurance premiums (carrot) and charging people an increased Medicare levy (stick) if they didn't take out private health insurance, as well as an annual increase in premiums once you were older than 31.

Since the government pays 30% of most people's premiums, they now feel they can dictate what the funds reimburse people for, which seems a strange imposition on both business and individuals for a Liberal government to make.

They are using a review by the Chief Medical Officer as an excuse to remove the rebates. The terms for the review were very narrow, with good quality studies rejected for failing to tick one of many boxes. The CMO did find that more research was warranted, but oddly enough, no funding has been forthcoming. Conducting clinical trials is very expensive and requires participation at a university level, so funding is vital to produce enough evidence to satisfy these reviews.

What does this mean for you? At the moment, this is still a little uncertain. Bowen Therapy was in the list of things to be dropped, but it is still unknown if individual health funds will retain policies to cover complementary therapies that are not subject to the federal government's 30% rebate. There was no mention of massage therapy in the announcement, so the current presumption is that it is safe but this has not been stated categorically.

What can you do? Write letters! The Bowen Association Australia's committee of management has had advice that online petitions are pretty much considered spam by our elected representatives, so while I'm not suggesting you don't sign one, it's of limited use. A letter to your local member will go much further. The BAA has produced templates to base a letter on that can be accessed here and tailored to you. The letters broadly cover points around how this is an attack on individual choice in healthcare, an attack on small business and an attack on women in business, but you can include you own story to make it stronger. There is also a list of questions from which you can pick a couple for your member to put to the Health Minister. If you live in Liberal-held seat, you may be able to put some fear into your member that they won't retain their seat at the next election and stir a back-bench revolt. If it's Labor-held, give them ammunition with which to attack the government. If it's independent, even better - the current lack of a parliamentary majority gives your member lots of power!

Finding Our Legs with Alice Cummins

Some time back, one of my regulars, a dancer, told me of a workshop she'd done, where she felt responses in her body quite similar to those she experienced during and after Bowen. She had my attention!

The workshops are presented by Alice Cummins, a dance and movement artist who has studied Body-Mind Centering in the USA with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. To describe it is difficult -  a little like Bowen Therapy, sometimes you just have to experience things.

I went in with some trepidation as someone with zero experience in dance or movement but was made to feel part of it from the beginning. That's not to say that there weren't challenges. When Alice said something like, "Now, express that", I was left momentarily lost as I'm used to expressing through words or paint, not movement. And when she asked the group "How do you fall?", I was quite frozen as the only times I've seriously hurt myself in this life (luckily) have been through falls and the thought of voluntarily falling was a real challenge.

The workshop has given me so much to benefit both my practice and my teaching. Ways of looking at things and using the body that are just that little bit different but make life so much clearer. For example, I have many who struggle with the concept of "the core" and how to use it, with frequent intepretations including locking their psoas or pelvic floor. Alice talked us through embryonic development to understand how to connect movement through our centre. And, she bristles at the use of the word core!

We worked through experiential anatomy, which gave me great ideas of how to work with students in class to help them grasp the application of theory. And, it seems strange after so many years of working in health, but actually making things happen in yourself to understand what you've "known" for years can make you really know it.

It was a very full two days and it's really only scratched the surface. Hopefully I'll have time next year to attend another workshop to pick up more understanding of what I experienced. And experienced is right - by the end of the first day I was wiped out in the way that I am after a Bowen worshop where I have had lots of work done on me and my body is trying to integrate it. And I was cranky - for no reason, just oddly mildly annoyed by everything. The next day, still wiped out, but cranky all gone.

Thanks Alice and I look forward to next year.

Certificate IV in Bowen Therapy 10533NAT Starting soon!

My next round of classes towards the Certificate IV in Bowen Therapy 10533NAT start on September 23rd and 24th.

This class is part of the nationally-recognised training programme offered by Bowen Training Australia RTO#41134, a Nationally Recognised Training provider. The Certificate IV proramme consists of seven hands-on modules where you learn the basics of applying Bowen Therapy for a variety of situations.

The course also involves some distance-learning modules where you'll cover theory aspects such as anatomy and physiology, infection control and practice management. These theory parts are done direct through BTA via online learning. There are some practice logbook hours to complete and some case studies for you to test your new skills and provide true experiential learning. While the distance learning and case studies are self-directed, there is support consistently available throughout.

The hands-on modules will be run from my Sydney CBD consulting rooms, which are easily accessible by public transport. Manuals, tables and towels are all provided, so no need to lug anything with you. You just need your curiosity!

The modules are spaced out with plenty of time in between to practice, do theory and logs, and work out your strengths and weaknesses. You can complete the training in just under a year and you have up to 18 months. In the event that you can't make it to these classes, all BTA instructors run on the same programme, so you can always make a class up with another instructor.

On successful completion of the Certificate IV in Bowen Therapy 10533NAT, you may continue on to the Diploma of Specialised Bowen Therapy 10534NAT to deepen your knowledge of assessment and learn a new set of Bowen procedures for different body areas. You'll also be able to join the Bowen Association Australia, whereby you'll be able to access professional insurance and, once Diploma-qualified, become a health fund provider.

Feel free to make contact to ask any questions or get an information pack!

Lymphatics for Bowen Therapists

A great learning experience will be on offer later this month for Bowen Therapists who are interested in learning more about the lymphatic system and how they can assist lymphatic issues.

On the 27th and 28th of May, I will be running Practitioner Days A and B to revise the Bowenwork from the Certificate IV programme but, to add a little spice, will be focusing on the lymphatic system and how Bowen Therapists can aid it.

We'll look at the lymphatic system, what it is and what it does, how your basic Bowenwork can aid in issues, and also things you can discuss with your clients to help them help themselves.

It is $200 per day, with Day A focusing on lower body work and Day B on the upper body. It's obviously better if you can do both, but I understand that many have limited time available.

You will earn 1 CEU point per hour for your Category 1 (Hands-on Bowen) continuing education requirements for the BAA and Bowtech. So that's 8 points per day.

The days will be held at my rooms here in the Sydney CBD with easy access via trains (Town Hall or St James) or buses. You can also park at the Doamin Parking Station for a flat rate of $10 per day on weekends.

There's no need to lug tables or towels with you either - everything is here. Just bring your manuals and your good selves.

For more information, please feel free to contact me. Please note that this workshop is not part of the nationally recognised training programme, however it is Bowtech-accredited.

Sometimes it is darkest just before the dawn

I don’t like to send patients home after their first session with anything negative in their heads, so normally just suggest that they email or call if they have any concerns. I’ve had a few people lately have quite strong reactions, often involving a flare-up of a chronic condition to a more acute feeling.

This can happen in many therapies, but I tend to notice it mostly in Bowen, and to a lesser degree in Lymphatic Drainage. In naturopathic terms, it is known as a healing crisis, whereby the body (that has long since settled into a chronic disease pattern) is suddenly working its way back to health and often relives some of the more acute symptoms that may have died down or changed over time.

In Bowen this can be noticed as nerves “coming back to life” after settling in to a duller signal or muscles pulling as the body realigns itself. It is no cause for panic and will normally right itself with time and some more sessions until things are properly realigned. If you feel that the pain is impacting on your ability to function normally, feel free to use whatever painkillers you normally would but it is important to not apply hot or cold packs to the area or massage yourself (or get someone else to!) as this will interrupt those clever little impulses that the Bowen Therapy sets up and possibly leave you in your painful place. The exception to this is if you re-injure yourself. If you find yourself in pain due to an acute injury or following the very activity that brought you to me in the first place, you may need to come back in sooner rather than waiting for the full week to elapse. If in doubt, ask!

In regards to Lymphatic Drainage, most of the more dramatic responses have been due to people who have had more serious conditions to start with. Those who have a difficult-to-treat infection such as Lyme (or similar) may have an initial worsening of symptoms. A history of tropical diseases, such as malaria, Ross River or Dengue Fevers, may bring a strong response after treatment. If you’ve had any of these, working in small doses will be the best approach. Other than that, it is normally those who’ve fully enjoyed all the world has to offer that tend to respond more dramatically – people who may already have a lot of stress on the liver can sometimes feel quite off afterwards.

My point is that there is no reason to fear feeling bad after treatment – it is often a really good sign! If ever in any doubt, please get in contact so we can discuss your individual symptoms and be sure.