The ASA has written some new guidelines… and they're crap!

February 11, 2018

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, ASA

The ASA have had issues recently with the amount of complaints us skeptics have been submitting to them for dodgy medical claims. It appears that as a result of a particular complaint about an acupuncturist they've decided to write a guideline (opens new window) for healthcare related complaints.

The guideline starts off well, taking a rightly broad view of what constitutes a therapeutic claim, and confirming that words like "may" (e.g. may cure cancer) are not an indemnity against making bad claims.

However, there's a section that acceptable substantiation for a claim includes:

"Where a Method of Treatment is funded by ACC or a private insurer"

This is ridiculous. ACC currently fund several treatments that aren't evidence based, and have said that they don't consider their funding to be evidence of efficacy. So why are the ASA now accepting ACC funding as adequate evidence.

Even worse is the part about private insurance. Southern Cross insurance covers homeopathy and naturopathy via their "Body Care" module for their Wellbeing Two health insurance package:

Body Care Module (opens new window)**

Cover for preventative, allied and natural healthcare including dietitian/nutritionist, podiatrist, acupuncturist, osteopath, chiropractor, naturopath/homeopath and remedial massage therapy consultations.

Given that naturopathy covers a wide range of treatments, it looks like the ASA have given alternative medicine practitioners carte blanche to say whatever the hell they way, just because an insurance company will pay out for it. a