Why the Private Health Insurance reforms aren’t Necessarily a bad thing for Pilates - by Rob Carruthers

There’s been a lot of questions in our studio over the last few months about what exactly the reforms to private health insurance will mean for our clients. It’s something which has definitely been a concern for almost 12 months, but mainly due to its ambiguity. Now that push has come to shove, and all the information is available, we can safely say that business will carry on as per usual.

Why did they happen in the first place?

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The thing I always remind people about when it comes to insurance, is that ultimately it’s still a business - there is an expectation that profits will be made for shareholders. So behind everything health insurance companies do, I always consider the implications on why they might be doing something on a business front. The health insurance companies have reasoned that the reforms came about to assist with lower premiums however professionals have since said this is unlikely to occur. I can only speculate but I suspect there were perhaps financial concerns across the industry, either from the companies or from the government, but that’s purely my opinion. Either way the reforms are in full flight now, after they came in on April 1st 2019, earlier this month. They also stipulate to focus on evidence-based treatments, which I do respect. However, I feel they’re perspective is more tailored towards rehabilitation, rather than prevention. And there is always the question of what evidence was consulted, who made the interpretations, and who provided the research in the first place. And yes, I do love a good conspiracy theory in case you couldn’t tell…

Why was Pilates removed from my Private Health Fund?

That’s still a question which needs be answered with absolute clarity. I know some research was used and I’m sure “experts” were consulted before making any decisions, but what research and who was consulted are definitely questions our professional Pilates bodies have taken to the government, as we are hoping to reinstate Pilates in the long run. A huge number of people would advocate Pilates as an essential part of maintaining their health, although it may be difficult to objectively prove this. It seems the changes are aimed at supporting treatment of a problem, rather than prevention. What I also keep in mind is that other fantastic modalities such as Kinesiology and Naturopathy were also cut, so we try not to feel like we were given the raw end of the stick when others were also affected. 

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What changes can we expect to see across our industry? 

What has been really positive about these reforms, is that it will separate allied health practitioners away from Pilates studios. Why is this good? Another way of looking at it is that it will separate those who have had comprehensive Pilates training, from those that haven’t. Allied health practitioners (physio, osteo etc) will no longer be able to deliver Pilates sessions if they’re providing a rebate. They will have to re-brand to be able to maintain the ability to offer a rebate, as Pilates is no long claimable under insurance (provider dependent). A factor we’ve always struggled with, is that there’s no regulation of the Pilates industry. This has allowed many businesses to promote Pilates as a modality they offer, even if they haven’t had any genuine Pilates training. I can say from personal experience of having helped teach Pilates courses to allied health practitioners, that there are a huge number of businesses, Physiotherapy in particular, that are putting clients into services under a practitioner that may have an allied health degree, but may not have had any actual Pilates training. This means they may not fully comprehend the Pilates method, or the way we use functional bio-mechanics for movement therapy. It’s actually a little bit scary that this has been allowed to happen, but ultimately this is what’s allowed our business to succeed. We’ve had a large number of people come through our business and complement us on the difference in knowledge and progress they’ve been able to make. And this is because we only hire those with comprehensive training or a nationally recognised Diploma in Pilates training. This is due to the amount of course work required highlighting dedication to the process, as well as the sheer number of hours of participation, self practice, and supervised teaching required to become certified. This creates a certain level of experience you simply cannot fake, contrasted against practitioners who might receive their training over a weekend with no requirement for further training or examinations. 


Does the formal Pilates training really matter?

Absolutely! And no. Ultimately Pilates is just another form of movement utilising certain ideal’s about how best to do it, as is Yoga, going to the gym, or swimming. At the end of the day, movement in any form is going to be beneficial, regardless of what 'brand’ of movement you’re doing. So if someone is seeing a practitioner and they are really happy with how things are going, ultimately it doesn’t matter what their background is. But in our experience, when someone is living in pain or dealing with an injury that simply isn’t getting better, those extra few hundred hours of training under industry leaders makes all the difference between getting on with life, or actually getting their confidence and their lives back!

Does this change the future for Movementality?

Simply put - no. As we’ve grown over the last two years, we’ve used Physiotherapy less and less, so those using our services are for the most part paying privately anyway. Some have claimed rebates and may not be able to do this anymore, but majority of those same people have also reflected on the amount they’ve received being so little it won’t hardly impact them. Those who are wanting to receive a rebate can still work with in the Group Physiotherapy-led sessions we run, however there is limited availability as it is practitioner dependent. What we know, is that for those who want the quality we strive to provide through constant professional development and industry education we put ourselves though, is that they will continue to use our service regardless of the rebate. Obviously we’d still love to be able to provide one, but it’s beyond our control unfortunately. So we will continue on operating and hope our work speaks for itself! 

If you have questions, please contact your health insurance company directly to see how your situation is impacted. If you are wanting to claim and can’t find an availability on our timetable, please let us know at reception and we will work to address this if there is a significant number of clients whose needs aren’t being met.