Bupa Asia Pacific 2021 Financial Results
Bupa Group has announced its full year financial results for year ended 31 December 2021, including an update on Bupa’s Asia Pacific (Bupa APAC) performance.
|BUPA APAC||Revenue||Underlying profit|
|FY 2020 (CER)||$9.7bn||$240m|
|% growth (CER)||4%||69%|
Amidst the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bupa APAC delivered a strong improvement in operating performance driven by our health insurance and aged care businesses in Australia, though challenges remain in the aged care sector. Revenue increased by 4% to $10.1bn driven by volume growth across our businesses with underlying profit increasing by 69% to $407m reflecting the non-recurrence of the six-month deferral of the premium increase for Australian health insurance customers which was implemented in 2020, and reduced losses in aged care due to portfolio optimisation, increased occupancy and operating improvements.
Across Asia Pacific, Bupa continues to take action to provide customers with affordable products and services, while delivering ongoing financial support to those most impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, we supported our employees by continuing to pay them during periods when Bupa stores, medical clinics and dental practices were closed and continued to provide flexible working arrangements to our office-based employees.
Hisham El-Ansary, Bupa’s Asia Pacific CEO, said: “Our performance during 2021 reflects the benefits of business transformation programs put in place in our Australian Health Insurance and Aged Care businesses to drive operational improvements, product and service innovation, as well as greater investment in digital technologies to better support our customers and residents.
“We continued to put our customers first by announcing we would return $120 million of COVID-19 related savings as a ‘cash back’ to our Australian health insurance customers, and we have just announced that we will delay our 2022 rate increase for six months until 1 October 2022, returning an additional $146 million in COVID-related savings. This is all part of our broader $464 million support package for our customers, and we continue to monitor the impact of restrictions on elective surgeries and other claims, providing additional support to our customers as required.
“To ensure Bupa is better meeting the changing needs of our customers, we increased investment in new models of care such as dialysis in the home and improved optical networks, incentivised payments for no-gap charges by doctors, enhanced digital touchpoints and product innovation through the launch of Blua, Benefit Pocket, Apple cards, AI-enabled eye tests and FLEXtras,” Mr El-Ansary said.
Last year, Bupa’s Hong Kong business joined its Australian and New Zealand operations to form Bupa Asia Pacific. “By bringing our Hong Kong and ANZ businesses together, we can deliver greater efficiencies and share learnings across healthcare systems to the ultimate benefit of all our customers,” Mr El-Ansary said.
Health Insurance (Australia)
In Australian Health Insurance, revenue grew 4% with the non-recurrence of the six-month deferral of the premium increase implemented in 2020, together with the delivery of significant business transformation initiatives. These included restructuring our product set to ensure they remained relevant to the changing needs of our consumers and stronger investment in digitisation to simplify our business processes and make it easier for our customers to interact with us. We launched a digital Apple card, asynchronous messaging, new go-to-market propositions such as FLEXtras, and innovative out-of-hospital care solutions such as dialysis in the home and improved mental health support.
These changes were well received with a 1.5% increase in our domestic policyholders, underpinned by strong growth in the 25-45 age group, as well as an increase in advocacy amongst customers with our strategic NPS score increasing by seven to 26 over the year. As a consequence, underlying profit improved, driven by strong revenue, margin remediation initiatives and better operational performance.
Bupa paid around $6 billion in claims for customers’ hospital, medical and other care needs in 2021 and remains focused on delivering more personalised and relevant health insurance experiences, especially for younger customers.
“We’re also working hand-in-hand with quality providers to deliver innovative approaches to care that improve affordability and value for money for our customers,” Mr El-Ansary said.
Health Services (Australia and New Zealand)
Health Services in Australia delivered revenue growth of 5% from improved volumes, mainly in the Australian Defence Force contract, with volumes maintained in our dental and optical businesses. However, underlying profit declined significantly due to lockdowns and border closures adversely impacting our stores, medical clinics and dental practices. In December, we launched our new digital telehealth platform, Blua, which enables customers to attend appointments remotely with health professionals. We also announced the sale of our portfolio of 22 dental practices in New Zealand, which has now been completed.
“We continue to invest in our broad network of practices and clinics that deliver vital healthcare services to people of all ages across the Asia Pacific region via innovative technology,” Mr El-Ansary said.
“During the past two years we have seen a significant uplift in demand for telehealth and digital services which is why we were pleased to launch our new digital healthcare platform, Blua, which enables customers to find, book and attend appointments remotely with health professionals.”
Aged Care (Australia)
Australian Aged Care performance continued to be challenging but we were able to reduce underlying losses as a result of implementing operating improvements, portfolio optimisation and increasing occupancy, which improved by 2 ppts over the year to close at 86.8%.
“We remain focused on optimising our portfolio of homes so that we can provide the best possible care for our residents. This meant the sale of four homes and the closure of a further five homes that were no longer fit-for-purpose,” Mr El-Ansary said.
“We also opened our first purpose built Australian retirement village at Sutherland in Sydney in November 2020 with all 82 apartments sold by 1 December 2021.
“While the pandemic continues to create challenges for Australia’s aged care sector, significant structural challenges also remain, particularly in workforce and funding, as noted by the Aged Care Royal Commission. As we continue to work with government and industry stakeholders on reforms that will help ensure the ongoing sustainability of the sector, we remain focussed on delivering high-quality care to our residents.”
Aged Care (New Zealand)
Our Villages and Aged Care business in New Zealand performed well in a difficult operating environment with revenue growth of 3% reflecting strong retirement village sales, but the closing occupancy rate was down 3 ppts to 88.1%. This, combined with higher operating costs associated with the pandemic, meant the business reported an underlying loss.
As part of our portfolio optimisation program in New Zealand, we sold seven rehabilitation sites, one care home and have announced the closure of a further three care homes.
However, our investment program remains strong as we opened a new retirement village and care home at Foxbridge and completed the construction of another at Riverstone, with work continuing on a further four developments.
In Hong Kong SAR, revenue increased by 5% driven by the reopening of services during the year, which led to improved volumes in both provision and insurance. The anticipated rebound in health insurance claims, together with new COVID-related support for our customers, led to an overall underlying loss. This was partially offset by improved medical clinic performance within the Health Services business.
“With the COVID-19 situation improving across Australia, we anticipate progressive improvement in trading conditions and associated performance. In New Zealand and Hong Kong however, conditions are expected to remain challenging for our businesses in the near term.
“Across our Asia Pacific portfolio, we have a significant program of investment over the coming years to uplift our digital and data capabilities. This will help us revolutionise the experience for our customers, as we work to better partner with them and providers to deliver more affordable and personalised health and wellbeing services, enabling us to bring to life our purpose of helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives and making a better world.
“Our people have done an amazing job in difficult circumstances over the past year. We will continue to prioritise them by supporting flexible working arrangements for both our frontline and office-based teams and providing access to wellbeing support so they are better able to balance their work and personal needs,” Mr El-Ansary said.
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