A woman has made the news today because she has been denied treatment for a medical condition, symphysis pubis dysfunction, related to her pregnancy. Southern Cross Insurance have said that the reason for not paying for treatment is that pregnant women in New Zealand are eligible for free healthcare, and so their policies don't cover pregnancy.

The first point of interest in this story is that that woman in question wanted to use chiropractic to treat her condition. I've searched the scientific literature for good quality evidence that chiropractic can help for symphysis pubis dysfunction, but was only able to find a case study of a single patient, which is nowhere near enough to recommend treatment.

It would have been nice to have seen the insurance company decline treatment based on this fact, that the evidence is lacking, but unfortunately this would be unlikely to be the case for Southern Cross because several of their plans cover osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.

This kind of support of unproven therapies only serves to legitimise them in the eyes of the public. It's unfortunate that these therapies are given this kind of support - which is not justified by the level of evidence currently available for them. With a lack of plausible mechanisms, I doubt that any of them will ever be accepted in scientific circles, even if they have managed to convince some companies that they might be effective.

Obviously people are able to choose their insurance company, and it's for individuals to ensure that their money doesn't go towards paying for treatments that are ineffective - however, I for one would avoid a company that is so willing to spend money on treatments that have not been shown to work.