Bupa backs Senate calls for health system transparency

Bupa and the peak private health insurance body, Private Health Australia, have backed calls for more transparency across the health sector.

Appearing at a Senate Committee hearing in Sydney today, Bupa’s Managing Director of Health Insurance, Dr Dwayne Crombie said Bupa is committed to being open and emphasising value for consumers.

When asked by Labor Senator Sam Dastyari why management salaries were not published, Bupa says it would back that proposal provided it applied to any part of the health supply sector that receives taxpayers’ money.

Dr Crombie told the Inquiry there is a strong public interest in more transparency and it needed to go the whole way through the system.

“We don’t have a problem. If we disclose private health insurance management salaries, we should do that for all of the suppliers, the big private hospitals, the medical companies, etcetera.”

“Another key aspect of disclosure was around transparency about savings from reforms to the prostheses list,” Dr Crombie told Bupa News after the hearing.

“We were asked whether we’d pass on all the prostheses savings that the Federal Health Minister has negotiated. One of the ideas was to get the Australian National Audit Office in."

"From our point of view if someone wants to come in and have a look at the figures, they absolutely can. We’ve got nothing to hide.”

When asked by the committee if the proposed discount for young people to join PHI early would make a difference, Dr Crombie said it was a challenge for the whole industry.

“We’ve got to do more to encourage young people in terms of emphasising the health and wellbeing aspects of insurance.”

Senator Dr Richard Di Natale also raised the issue of complaints about health insurance.

Bupa’s head of Health and Benefits, Adam Longshaw, told the inquiry Bupa is committed to assisting customers who might want to make a complaint.

“Bupa has become much more transparent in terms of telling consumers their options if they aren’t happy.”


Dr Crombie mentioned Bupa has concerns about comparator websites like iselect for the reason they take a proportion of a person's health insurance premium fees as payment.

“If I go to one of those sites and type in my details, you’re telling me they’re getting up to 30% of my first year’s premium?” asked Senator Dastyari, who promised to look into the process.

“They never make that clear to customers," replied Dr Crombie.

"That’s a huge amount of money going off the table that could be used for health claims. From our point of view if you’re going to have a system that discloses to consumers you should actually get that out so people can make judgements,” he said.