Back & Neck Treatment: A Medical Aid Benefit You May Not Know You Have
According to The South African Society of Physiotherapy, only 25 – 40% of people with back pain seek healthcare and rehabilitation. This is a worrying figure considering 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It appears that financing back and neck treatment is a deterrent for patients that actually need the treatment and can sometimes be a source of worry for those in pain. Moreover, patients who prefer conservative treatment methods find that it is sometimes easier to get medical aid cover for hospital admission for surgery without full knowledge of what alternatives exist.
With this in mind, there are medical aids that work in conjunction with The Back Clinic, to offer the DBC (Documentation Based Care) back and neck rehabilitation benefit to many of their members. This is a treatment protocol that was developed over 20 years ago in Finland, found its way to South Africa and has been adapted here to help patients manage neck and back pain and, in some cases, prevent surgery where patients prefer conservative methods of treatment. Medical aids that offer this benefit include: AECI Medical Aid, Bankmed (under specific conditions), Bestmed, Bonitas, Fedhealth, Medihelp, Nedgroup Medical Aid, Sasolmed, Libcare, Liberty Medical scheme, Old Mutual Staff Medical Aid, Enablemed (Makoti Medical Scheme, Malcor Plan D), Resolution Health.
We find that some of the patients are not always aware that they have access to this benefit and in most cases that this is paid from their risk benefit – this simply means that sometimes patients do not realise they can receive treatment for back and neck pain without depleting their savings, or the co-pay is smaller than they expect. In some cases even patients on a hospital plan (Nedgroup, OMSMAF, Bonitas members) may be able to access this benefit which includes up to 12 treatment sessions with a physiotherapist (for pain management), a biokineticist (for strengthening & increased mobility needed in managing pain over the long term), and a up to 3 consultations with a doctor. Of course this information can be very useful to sufferers of neck and back pain allowing patients to access treatment that they otherwise might not have known about.
How Can I Access This Benefit?
As you can imagine, each medical aid has a unique process for requesting authorization. Typically this is what we recommend:
- Contact The Back Clinic directly 0n 010 203 9045 and we will discuss the treatment protocol in detail, assist you with obtaining authorisations and enrolling on the programme with our therapists in Rosebank or Roodepoort.
- Contact your medical aid directly to request authorisation (typically this is only possible on Bonitas, Nedgroup, Libcare / Liberty, Old Mutual Staff Medical Aid – you can contact the membercare centre on 0860 105 104). Advise them that you have neck and/or back pain and request authorisation for the DBC programme. They will direct you to your nearest treatment centre.