Bupa rejects CHOICE’s claims and has committed over $184m to customers


Statement from Emily Amos, Bupa's Managing Director of Health Insurance. 

We reject CHOICE’s irresponsible claims regarding support provided to private health insurance customers during COVID-19. Many of the findings are simply untrue and are a source of misinformation during a challenging and stressful time for millions of Australians. We have provided more than $184m in financial assistance and savings direct to customers and there has been no “super profits” as claimed.

It is simply untrue to state that insurers “pocketed $1 billion in the space of 42 days,” when profits projected at the beginning of the crisis have not eventuated.

The pause on non-urgent elective surgery and some ancillary services lasted for six weeks, as opposed to the several months that were originally projected. During this 6-week period we paid out over $280 million on almost 100,000 episodes of hospital care for around 70,000 members.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has also asserted that any medical treatments which did not take place in the March-June quarter as a result of restrictions would be deferred rather than forgone something we are now seeing through a strong bounce back in claims. Claims deferred do not equate to claims saved.

We are proud of how we have supported our customers through COVID-19.

Bupa has provided more than $184m in benefits to customers through hardship relief including the six-month deferral of the April premium increase, and we are continuing to offer financial hardship support for our customers, either as premium relief, premium discounts or suspension of policies. This has been clearly communicated to customers and we encourage anyone experiencing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19 to get in touch and join the 38,000 customers we’ve already helped.

A full description of the ways in which we have supported our customers, and not profited through COVID-19 is contained in our letter to CHOICE, much of which has been ignored.

A further critique of CHOICE’s methodology can be found in this media release from Private Healthcare Australia.

At a time when the health and finances of everyday Australians are being challenged, we are extremely disappointed that CHOICE would seek to mislead consumers.

To support our customers’ health and financial wellbeing through the COVID-19 pandemic, Bupa has helped in a number of pragmatic ways. These include:

  • A $50m hardship fund for customers suffering financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic with relief mechanisms consisting of premium waivers, premium discounts, policy suspensions and unemployment cover depending on customers’ individual circumstances.
  • Delaying the April 1 premium increases for six months, saving customers around $134m.
  • Making sure ALL customers with a hospital policy are covered for lung and chest conditions, including those arising from COVID-19 related claims, irrespective of the terms of that policy.
  • Expanding cover to include claims for psychology, speech pathology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and dietetic services delivered through telehealth, while at home.
  • Expanding cover to include rebates on many health aids and medical appliances purchased online to provide added flexibility at a time where many people are practising social distancing.
  • Providing customers with access to Australia’s leading home fitness and nutrition program, 28 by Sam Wood, for three months at no cost.
  • Access to a dedicated COVID-19 assistance and advice helpline.