Private health insurance needs to better support basic exercise needs

Despite private health insurance (PHI) funds regularly advertising the benefits of exercise for good health, Australians are often required to purchase a more comprehensive cover in order to meet their basic exercise needs.

The importance of including exercise as a cornerstone of effective chronic disease care has been well-established in clinical research. However, accredited exercise physiology services remain under-represented in PHI extras/ancillaries cover. 

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is calling for insurance funds to go beyond merely telling people that exercise is essential, but to commit to supporting their members’ access to exercise and behaviour change services.

“Both becoming and subsequently maintaining a physically active lifestyle is not a simple task; it is not a matter of just choosing to exercise. It requires attention to motivation, cost, scheduling in time, the type and frequency of exercise, and negotiating the oversaturation of health information—or misinformation,” says Alex Lawrence, ESSA Policy and Advocacy Officer. 

“This all can be even more complex when your exercise goal is the treatment or management of a chronic disease or injury. This is where an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) would significantly benefit Australians, highlighting the disconnection between PHI funds advocating for exercise but restricting access to accredited exercise physiology services.”

Accredited Exercise Physiologists are recognised allied health professionals who deliver exercise interventions and support aimed at preventing acute or managing sub-acute chronic disease or injury, and who assist in restoring one’s optimal physical function, health or wellness.

In light of the private health insurance reforms that will come into effect this year that will see many changes to extras cover, ESSA will be performing a review of exercise physiology cover to assist Australians in deciding what PHI cover is right for them. 

“If you believe having access to accredited exercise physiology services is a basic health need, you can help incite change by signing ESSA’s petition on the Active Nation’s website,” adds Mr Lawrence.

“Consumers can also download this editable letter to contact their PHI and express their concerns with the current level of benefits afforded to accredited exercise physiology services within their policy.” 

For more information on ESSA’s advocacy to PHI, please visit the Active Nation website

You can contact your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist via the ESSA Search Function