Patients in Australia will soon be able to obtain access to psychedelic medicine and treatment which is covered by their health insurance.
The Perth-based health fund, Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF), is set to become the first Australian organization to offer insurance for psychedelics, citing the plethora of extraordinary clinical trials showcasing the ability of substances like MDMA and psilocybin to treat conditions like PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance abuse – conditions that traditional pharmaceuticals fall wide of the mark on for many patients.
Speaking on a podcast, HIF’s CEO Justin James said that “there is a stigma to these types of drugs or alternative therapies, but my job is to help our members access and choose the best mental health therapies that are available to them and emerging therapies are certainly in that basket of what we think we should be talking to them about.
“Currently Australia is dealing with a huge amount of cost in the system, be it private or public to deal with mental health issues in all age groups. If we can identify the future as being one that’s at a lower cost to the community with better clinical outcomes, then I think that’s incumbent on us, as a funder of some of these particular choices, to become involved.”
Since the COVID pandemic shook the world, James highlights that over one in five health insurance claims have been related to mental health.
Furthermore, the data from HIF suggests that such claims for mental health treatment are increasingly submitted by younger segments of society than ever before. A trend that is by no means exclusive to Australia.
Why is Health Insurance Coverage of Psychedelics in Australia Important?
As is often the case in emerging industries, particularly so for emerging medicines, it is forces outside of governments who continue to push the dial forward regarding progressive change.
The significance of a health fund within a major global economy such as Australia, paving the way for psychedelic treatment coverage under health insurance, should not be overlooked.
Positive moves such as this, paired with the growing body of research and clinical studies providing medical data on the effects of such treatments, should act as a further catalyst for the fast-changing public perception around plant medicines; moving from prohibited, taboo substances to effective, safe medicines for a wide variety of conditions.
As we have seen with cannabis over the past four years, debunking historic myths – perpetuated from yesterday year, often created for non-medical reasons – with solid research, data and patient outcomes, inevitably leads to policy change (although this is a typically slow-moving beast).
And the winners? Patients. Healthcare systems. Economies.
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