Bupa Health Insurance Review: Is it worth it?


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Bupa established itself in 1947 as a health funding organization and has since amassed over 31 million customers worldwide making it one of the leading healthcare companies, providing not only private health insurance but also treatment and advice. As a result it has become a household name and is certainly one to consider if you are thinking about taking out private health insurance.

But how good is Bupa's offer really? In this review we'll take a closer look at Bupa and what their private health insurance plan entails, including what is and isn't covered, exclusions and of course, how much taking out a policy with them might cost you.

In This Review

Bupa Private Health Insurance: Overall Review

Bupa is considered one of the biggest names in the health insurance industry, both in the UK and internationally — in fact, they operate in 190 countries! Across the 31 million customers they serve, health insurance makes up around 18 million of these making them a popular choice indeed. Not only does Bupa offer individual private health insurance plans, they also offer cover for couples as well as for families too.

With this in mind, it might come as no surprise that Bupa has earned a pretty sterling reputation amongst experts and customers alike. They have earned an impressive Trustpilot rating of 4.4 out of 5, indicating an excellent customer experience. Not only that, their comprehensive cover is 5 star Defaqto rated meaning their independent analysts deem it to be one of the best products on the market.

Bupa's reputation isn't completely without blemishes, however. Whilst their comprehensive tier of cover earned a perfect Defaqto rating, their standard tier 'Treatment and Care' is rated only 3 stars indicating an 'average' product. It is important to keep in mind that whilst a 5 star Defaqto rating is an excellent indication of the overall quality of a product, there are many other factors to take into account too, such as cost and what is and isn't included in their cover.

We'll get into those later on, but for starters let's take a look at why Bupa might be the private health insurance provider for you...

Why choose Bupa Private Health Insurance?

Bupa's private health insurance comes with a range of benefits that might appeal to any new customer. Here are a few key ones we feel are worth knowing about:

  • 5 star Defaqto rated cover: note, this is for their comprehensive tier cover only
  • Cover more mental health conditions than any other leading UK insurer
  • Multiple plans available: choose between individual, couple, family and even business healthcare plans
  • 24/7 access to GPs using their mobile app: this includes the ability to conduct live video GP consultations
  • Two-tier coverage: you have the flexibility to choose between their standard level cover or their comprehensive level
  • Gain access to breakthrough cancer drugs: with Bupa health insurance you can gain access to breakthrough cancer drugs and treatment (as long as they are evidence-based), often before they become available through the NHS

Customer Reviews and Ratings

Bupa Customer Ratings

Defaqto Rating

5 out of 5 (comprehensive level cover)

Trustpilot Rating

4.4 out of 5

Defaqto Rating

3 out of 5 (standard 'Treatment and Care' level cover)

Review Centre Rating^

1.4 out of 5

^Note, this rating is based on only 121 customer reviews so use as a guide only

Overall, expert and customer ratings for Bupa health insurance were generally positive. Their comprehensive level of cover is 5 star Defaqto rated, indicating their independent analysts consider it to be one of the best products on the market. Even their standard level of cover ('Treatment and Care') has been awarded 3 stars by Defaqto — whilst not perfect, it nevertheless indicates their policy is considered to be in line with the market average.

When taking a look at the customer experience of Bupa's health insurance customers, the picture is slightly more mixed. Whilst they have received an 'excellent' Trustpilot rating of 4.4 out of 5 across over 12,000 reviews, they have received a very disappointing rating of 1.4 out of 5 according to the customer feedback site reviewcentre.com. It's important to bear in mind that this lower rating is based on only 121 reviews, compared to Trustpilot's 12,000 so we'd recommend taking this with a pinch of salt.

Regardless, considering how large Bupa's health insurance customer base is (around 18,000 at the time of writing!), we feel that the general consensus indicated a positive experience using their service. Let's take a closer look at some of the feedback given by verified Bupa health insurance customers...

What does Bupa Private Health Insurance do well?

We reviewed hundreds of pieces of feedback left by verified customers and found a few key areas that Bupa appear to do particularly well.

They have been praised on the clarity of information and the high level of professionalism from their customer service agents, with many noting it has given them peace of mind during stressful times and has left them feeling well-informed through out the whole process. The service itself has also been highly praised, in particular customers have commended Bupa on the excellent medical staff they work with and also the speed with which they handle claims.

“Excellent service when you need it. I had serious hip issues and they saved me from becoming permanently disabled. I was able to sort out my expert and progress to receiving all the treatment I needed with little fuss or issues”

“I'm really pleased with the service, from assessment to being diagnosed. The next step of finding the correct treatment when I was at an all-time low was slow but this is understandable at this present time. I would highly recommend BUPA”

“Following my call to BUPA i booked an appointment at a local private hospital and was seen by a consultant within 2 weeks. The consultant referred me for an MRI scan which was available within 2 days of the consultation. All in all a brilliant service”

“The customer service received was excellent, each time I spoke with someone they were professional & explained the whole process which made my experience so much easier. They also backed up our conversation with either a text message or an email. I definitely recommend Bupa!”

“Bupa has been a lifesaver for me. Always professional and got me the help I needed after years trying to get help from NHS. I am finally on the mend and I cannot be more greatful to Bupa and the doctors that are connected to them”

What could Bupa Private Health Insurance improve?

Although we found the feedback for Bupa's private health insurance to be overwhelmingly positive, there is always room for improvement. We noticed some customers were unhappy with the recent changes made to Bupa's website, with the normal portal less user-friendly and confusing to navigate. It appears others have also struggled to contact Bupa's customer service team and even when they do, are left feeling frustrated at staff who are unable to direct them to the right place.

As it the case with most types of insurance, some customers feel caught out by the small print. Increased renewal fees and limited choice of practitioners are a few details that left customers feeling uneasy. To avoid surprises like this it is crucial you read your policy documents prior to signing the terms of contract.

“Very difficult to get through client service vs other insurance companies. Many practitioners available on other insurers aren’t on Bupa”

“BUPA the website has changed and it is confusing knowing where to go, even when you ring they don't know where to direct you. With regard to getting approval for a medical appointment it is far too slow. I send emails and they are not responded to for at least 5 days. When a claim is in process that takes forever”

“The new BUPA claim portal is both slow and frustrating. The claimant seems to be doing the BUPA back-office tasks on your behalf and at our cost and time. Whilst claims show paid in the portal, and via letter, funds not transferred to bank. Spoke to customer service twice and they don't seem to know what's going on and don't even understand the tool”

“The small print gets more important each year; the cost goes up way more than inflation; choice of medical supplier gets more limited”

How much is Bupa Private Health Insurance?

We compiled quotes for Bupa's health insurance based on the profile of a 35 year old male non-smoker from a mid-sized town in the UK. The prices shown below related to a single person plan (i.e. if you were looking to take insurance out for just yourself). Bupa offers two levels of cover — their lower level is named 'Treatment and Care' and their higher level offer is called 'Comprehensive'.

Private health insurance quote comparison for a 35 year old male non smoker (£month)

Aviva (Full cover)

£48 (£200 excess)

AXA

£36 (£500 excess)

Bupa (Comprehensive)

£36 (£500 excess)

Aviva (Limited cover)

£28 (£200 excess)

Bupa (Treatment and Care)

£28 (£500 excess)

Here is a brief summary of what each level of cover offers:

  • Comprehensive: sample quote based on £500 outpatient limit, full cancer cover, £500 excess, Essential hospital network and Extended Choice with Central London hospital network for under 16’s.
  • Treatment and Care: sample quote based on full cancer cover, £500 excess, Essential hospital network and Extended Choice with Central London hospital network for under 16’s.

It's important to remember the above figures are intended to be used as a guide only and you may find your quotes to be higher or lower depending on your own individual circumstances. Let's now take a closer a look at which is and isn't covered in each tier of Bupa private health insurance...

What is and isn't covered by Bupa Private Health Insurance?

With Bupa offering two different levels of cover, you will find many treatment benefits are covered by both whilst some more specialist areas are only covered by their comprehensive level.

The following are benefits we found are covered in both levels:

  • Hospital treatment
  • NHS cash benefits
  • Mental health cover
  • Outpatient therapies
  • Post treatment outpatient consultations
  • Post treatment tests and scans
  • Cancer cover
  • NHS cancer cover cash benefit
  • Treatment at home
  • Home nursing
  • Private ambulance
  • 24 hour medical helpline
  • Bupa Digital GP

Bupa offers a good level of standard cover which will protect you should you need to access core healthcare services. What is more, regardless of the level of cover you opt for, you will gain access to a 24 hour medical helpline which may be hugely beneficial in the case of medical emergencies.

There are some services that Bupa's standard 'Treatment and Care' level will not cover you for, so it's important to weigh up the importance of this to your own individual healthcare needs. We've detailed the key differences below:

What is typically covered?Treatment and CareComprehensive

Outpatient consultations

red x
thumbs up

Diagnostic tests

red x
thumbs up

Diagnostic scans (e.g. MRI, CT)

red x
thumbs up

Post diagnostic tests

red x
thumbs up

Post diagnostic scans

red x
thumbs up

Post diagnostic outpatient consultations

red x
thumbs up

What isn't covered?

As with any type of insurance, private health insurance will contain certain exclusions that are good to be aware of so you don't get caught out. For both their 'treatment and care' and 'comprehensive' levels of cover, Bupa have a set list of treatments types and conditions that are not covered.

We've listed some of the key ones below but note the full list is much longer, so do be sure to read up on these in your policy documents:

  • Accident and emergency treatment
  • Advances therapies and specialist drugs
  • Chronic conditions
  • Allergies, allergic disorders or food intolerances
  • Pre-existing or special conditions
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Dialysis
  • Dental/oral treatments (e.g. fillings, gum disease)
  • Experimental drugs and treatments
  • Pandemic or epidemic disease
  • Sleep problems or disorders
  • Deafness
  • Temporary relief of symptoms
  • Unrecognized providers or facilities
  • Contamination, wards, riots

Remember, this list is longer and there will be some very specific scenarios detailed that won't be covered. To save any surprises we always recommend putting aside some time to read through your policy wording carefully.

With something as important as health, you don't want to find yourself in a position where you aren't covered for something you thought you were!

How to make a claim on Bupa Private Health Insurance

There are a few different routes you can take should you need to make a claim.

Direct Access Service: Bupa offer a Direct Access service which applies to certain medical conditions, such as mental health, joint and cancer symptoms. Here you can call Bupa directly and, depending on your insurance policy, their trained advisors and practitioners can offer support, advice and a referral should you need it.

  • You can find out more here: www.bupa.co.uk/direct-access

Referral from a GP: if you have visited your GP or any other accepted medical professional (e.g. consultant, chiropractor, health visitors) and have a referral, you can submit a claim on line.

You will need to have details about your diagnosis and treatment, so be sure to have this information to hand. A GP will give you a referral letter, so be sure to keep this safe, too.

  • You can start making your claim online, here

If none of the above work for you, you can always call Bupa directly and speak to a member of their team to check that any referral proposed is covered by your policy.

  • You can call Bupa on: 0345 606 6739

Bupa Private Health Insurance: Discounts and Savings

There are some benefits that Bupa offer to their customers which can save you some pennies along the way...

  • Bupa Rewards: you can sign up to Bupa's Rewards scheme for free, and will gain access to a range of discounts for health and wellbeing products and services which can help you to stay healthier for longer. You can find out more here.
  • Bupa No Claims Discount: Bupa offer discounts on renewal premiums for customers who have not needed or wished to make a claim. The maximum discount offered is 70% with customer being able to 'level up' with each year they do not make a claim. Each level is associated with a specific discount rate and there are 14 levels in total (e.g. level 3 = 20%, Level 10 = 50%, level 14 = 70% discount). You can find out more information about Bupa's No Claims Discount here, but it's certainly a nice perk for loyal customers!

There are plenty of other easy tips and tricks at your disposal which can help you save on your health insurance. We've put together a handy guide for you which you can check out here.

FAQ's

You will notice in your policy documents or simply when researching private health insurance there appear to be many different types of 'patient'. This can be very confusing, especially for first-time health insurance buyers! We've offered a simple explanation below that should help clear up any confusion.

  • In-patient: you are an in-patient if you need to attend hospital for treatment, and need to stay in overnight (or longer)
  • Out-patient: you are an out-patient if you attend a hospital or clinic but do not need to stay overnight
  • Day-patient: you are a day-patient if you need to attend a hospital or clinic for treatment but do not need to stay overnight. Unlike an out-patient you will also require medical observation for a short while after.

Bupa will fund cancer drugs that haven't yet been approved so long as there is demonstrable and sound evidence of clinical benefits for the drug(s) in question.

No — however, Bupa will need to ask you questions about things such as your age, sex, medical history, lifestyle and occupation.

Yes! Comparing providers online is one of the best way to ensure you are getting the right level of cover for a price that suits you. We found Bupa to be on many comparison sites though we would recommend ActiveQuote and Assured Futures to start with, as these are recognized to be some of the best on the market.

Bupa states in their policy documents that they do not offer cover for pre-existing conditions.

In fact, you will find that most private health insurance providers take this approach. Crucially, if you are aware of any symptoms that could cause problems in the future, you will need to disclose these right away.

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