Who pays what? Ayurveda and Health Insurance.

Ayurveda by prescription? Will my health insurance pay for Ayurvedic treatment?

(Applies to German citizens only)

First a short summary:

  • Medical services are reimbursed from private health insurance.
  • Three German health insurers refund charges, which have been prepared according to our list of services. These insurers have Naturopathy and Ayurveda for refund included in their insurance contract.
  • Guests who are insured through state health insurance are by law not entitled for reimbursement of costs. Those must rely on the goodwill of their health insurance company.
  • Ayurveda treatment expenditures may under certain conditions be tax deductible.

Will health insurance pay for Ayurveda treatments? This is a common question from our guests. A large number of our patients are amazed that, despite demonstrable health benefits, German health insurance companies generally do not refund charges for this type of treatment. The reason given by health insurance companies is: The treatment procedures are not generally scientifically accepted. We therefore invite our patients to inform us of the benefits that they experience — if possible, with laboratory test findings, etc. Some guests have even tried to claim their right to reimbursement by going to court. They have asked our doctors and their own physician, who are generally impressed with the health improvements, to provide their expert opinion to lend weight to their argument.

We have prepared detailed information to support your negotiations with your health insurance company. Legally we may only provide this information to medical experts, but we will be happy to send this information to your doctor or insurance company consultant. There will be a charge of 15 EUR, payable in advance.

Based on the good experience with health insurance companies in other countries, a conference for leaders in the field of health was organised in Bad Ems by the German Association for Ayurveda. This was particularly aimed at health insurance and State health authorities. The General Director of the Dutch insurance company Geové presented impressive figures showing the reduction in health care costs related to Ayurvedic health care. Geové, as well as the Official Swiss Health Service (ÖKK), have been refunding costs for Ayurvedic treatment for quite some time.


Ayurvedic treatments in the Hufeland Index

Another step in the right direction is the inclusion of Ayurvedic treatment in the so-called Hufeland Index. The listing of Ayurvedic methods in this index provides a new basis for German health insurance to refund costs of treatment.

The Hufeland Society is an umbrella organisation to which German natural health organisations are affiliated. They publish a book entitled “Biological Medicine” as well as the “Hufeland Journal”. They also distribute the Hufeland Service Index, which contains suggested prices for natural therapy treatments. The newest version of this index has a whole section devoted to Ayurveda. Doctors can find specific guidelines relating to charges for their services and private health insurance companies have a basis for reimbursement.


Tax deductibility

In Germany expenditures for a course of Ayurveda treatment may under certain conditions be tax deductible as “extraordinary burden”, if the expenditure exceeds the income-related “a bit strong burden”. For married people with one child, for example, this is 4 per cent of the total income (in case total income exceeds 51,130 EUR, § 33 Income Tax Law – “Extraordinary Burden”). According to a German judgement* the main criterion is the demonstrable necessity of the treatment for healing or relief of an illness and that any other course of treatment will provide little or no success. This needs to be certified by a public health officer or by the medical service of a health insurance company (R 189, first paragraph of EStR – Income Tax Regulations), showing unquestionably that the taxpayer is ill and the treatment is medically indicated.

With regard to tax deductibility, it is recommended that you obtain a medical certificate from a public health officer before you begin the course of treatment.

In support of negotiations with your health insurance company, we have collected comprehensive information materials. According to the German Medicament Advertisement Law, we are allowed to make this information available to medical professionals only. If you like, we can send this information for a fee to your doctor or consultant of your health insurance company. When ordering, please send the transfer confirmation of the amount of 15 EUR or include a cheque with your mail order.

*Judgement from 1 February 2001 III R 22/00 Pls. see also: Tax Consultant Info Letter, August 2001 and BDI Circular 11-2001