Are Health Fund Rebates Necessary for a Successful Massage Business?
Brandon Raynor’s Massage and Natural Therapies School offers practical, hands on massage training courses. Many new and potential students approach me for advice regarding the impact of health fund rebates and their massage business. Many students are concerned that they will not have a successful massage practice if they do not provide coverage for all health fund rebates.
A frequently asked question is:
“Can I give Health Care Rebates to clients after completing one of your massage courses?”
When a better and more relevant question is:
“Do I need health care rebate coverage to have a successful massage career?”
This article will provide you with answers, information and advice to consider regarding health fund rebates and your massage business.
WHAT ARE HEALTH FUND REBATES?
In Australia, a small number of the clients who have private health coverage may be eligible to claim a portion of their massage treatment cost back from their private health fund. Thus, the private health fund rebate coverage will reduce the price of the treatment for clients.
Sounds good, right?
While getting health fund rebate coverage to appeal to these clients may sound like an obvious way to go, let’s consider important facts about private health insurance and health fund rebates.
5 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT PRIVATE HEALTH COVERAGE & MASSAGE
The advantages and role of health fund rebates in a massage practice can be overstated, so it is important to understand and determine the impact that health fund coverage could have on your massage career. Only 55.7% of Australians have private health coverage. That is 44.3% of Australians cannot claim any private health care rebates.
- There are different levels of coverage for healthcare and only some levels offer rebates for massage. Of the 55.7% of Australians with private healthcare, only those getting the most expensive levels of coverage will qualify to claim for massage treatments.
- Even with health fund rebate coverage for massage, the amount of treatments they can claim is usually very limited. (ie. If a client has a $100 massage treatment, according to their coverage, they may be allowed to claim $30 back on up to four or five massage treatments per year. For many massage therapists, the aim is to have “regulars” that get massage treatments more frequently than five times a year.)
- The nature of your massage business may not involve health fund rebates. For example, if you’re working in conjunction with an allied health professional who is already set up for health funds, plan on massaging for a sports team, or if you intend to massage non-Australian residents like tourists or if you will massage while you travel abroad. (Our massage graduates qualify to work in New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, most of Europe, most provinces in Canada, among various other countries and on yachts and cruise ships.)
- In recent years, there have been significant cuts in the amount refunded for remedial massage therapy by health insurers. Last year it went down from most funds covering $250 a year to this year it was $150 a year. It’s a very small amount of money over a year and the people would be better of reducing their premiums and not having the extra coverage for massage and saving that money to pay directly to the therapists. Thus leaving out several layers of bureaucracy.
- There are many health funds carriers in Australia, each with their own criteria and regulations for massage therapists. Some private heath funds even have their own qualification requirements for access to their private healthcare scheme in addition to the Government Accredited Diploma of Remedial Massage, which usually takes one or two years to complete and is quite expensive.
DO I NEED TO OFFER HEALTH FUND REBATES TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
Of course not.
There are many ways to build a successful massage business. One practitioner can usually massage for between 15 and 25 hours a week before becoming too exhausted. So, if on average you can provide 20 hours of massage per week then there are many ways to achieve being booked out without offering health fund rebates.
Many of our students have gone on to start and grow successful massage businesses. This is largely due to competency in skills that generate satisfied and returning clients and referrals, and by using various marketing strategies to build their business.
A key component that makes our students so successful in the massage field is that they cater each massage to suit the needs of their client. By providing quality service for each and every massage, instead of just doing an average routine massage, you will generate repeat clients and referrals from friends and family.
Other factors that are important to consider when starting a massage business is choosing a good location (and/or offering mobile massage), integrating different natural therapy modalities and building customer loyalty through trust, empathy and communication.
Offering the best massage treatment that anyone has ever had is a surefire way to keep people returning and referring clients to you so that you will be booked out quickly and for months in advance.
Do not let one marketing strategy like health fund claims, limit your business or earning potential. Remember massage is part of a free market economy. You are not limited in your price options or massage packaging— it is up to you to decide.
CAN I GIVE HEALTH CARE REBATES AFTER COMPLETING ONE OF YOUR COURSES?
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS TO HEALTH FUNDS
If you are concerned about losing clientele because of not offering rebates, you could always offer discounts, loyalty rewards packages or use a sliding payment scale for clients.
You can enrol in one of our fast-track courses to learn massage and start your massage career immediately without a health fund provider, and later upgrade your to the Diploma of Remedial Massage, if you still feel the need. This will allow you to adequately learn how to massage and allow you to earn a living right away and fund your further education down the track. But if you are giving your clients the best massage they have ever had then you may not need to waste 1 or 2 years of your life at a big college and an additional $12000 or so just to learn a more elementary form of massage.
Many practitioners offer additional therapies for their massage clients to earn extra money and to retain clients. We offer various natural therapies courses that can enhance your massage business. This includes courses in Whole Food Nutrition, Flower Essences, Herbal Medicine, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vegan Nutrition, and a comprehensive Naturopathy course.
REMEMBER WHY YOU WANT TO LEARN MASSAGE
A massage career is a rewarding way to help people by making a living. Acquiring knowledge and gaining competency in massage skills should be your primary reason for enrolling in a massage course, and not tracking down health fund requirements. Just like when you buy food are you buying food for the nutritional, health and taste of the food or are you buying it to get flybuys points or rewards points. In my opinion, health fund rebates are of no more value than flybuys points and are in fact a complete distraction for therapist who should be focused on becoming the best therapist that they are capable of becoming.
RAYNOR COLLEGE STUDENT OUTCOMES
Thousands of students have already successfully graduated from Brandon Raynor’s Massage and Natural Therapies School and went on to set up successful massage practices throughout the world. Our graduates are often told that the massage they provide is the best massage that their client has ever received, (especially from graduates or our Advanced Course). With feedback like that you don’t need to worry about a few of your clients getting a few dollars back from their health care fund. You will be booked out.