Bupa health insurance review – Is it the best health insurance provider in the UK?

18 min Read Published: 29 Jan 2020

Bupa health insurance review - is it the best health insurance policy in the uk?Bupa was founded in 1947 and was the result of seventeen British provident associations joining forces to provide private healthcare to the whole of the UK. Initially offering private healthcare to individuals and businesses, Bupa expanded to include privately-run Bupa hospitals, which went on to be sold to Spire Healthcare in 2008.

Bupa remains a prominent and well-respected name in the health insurance industry and continues to serve over 30million customers in 190 countries. In this article we take a look at Bupa health insurance, explaining the benefits, the cost, whether it is worth it and the best place to buy it.

Key benefits of a Bupa health insurance policy

Health insurance is an increasingly complex product thanks in part to the increasing number of insurance companies that have entered the market. Competition has helped to drive prices down and in order to stay ahead, insurers have had to develop innovative features and additional benefits, resulting in a far more comprehensive product. As policies become more complex, it becomes more and more difficult to compare the products online and so we explain later in this article the very best way to buy health insurance to ensure you are getting the best policy at the best price.

Focusing more on Bupa's health insurance, let's take a look at some of the key benefits.

Bupa health insurance - Key benefits

  • Cover more mental health conditions than any other insurer
  • Health advice available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Access to breakthrough cancer drugs and treatment
  • Live video GP consultations via the app

How does Bupa health insurance work?

Bupa offers individual health insurance, couples health insurance, family health insurance and business health insurance. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on individual health insurance. For family health insurance, check out our article 'Which is the best family health insurance policy that covers my children?'

Bupa has two plan types, 'treatment and care' cover and 'comprehensive' cover. Treatment and care cover is designed for those that are happy to be diagnosed by the NHS but would prefer to seek treatment privately. With a treatment and care policy, your scans and consultant appointments would be carried out by the NHS as normal however the policy would then kick in if any treatment is required. Bupa's comprehensive policy goes further in that it provides diagnostic tests and scans, out-patient consultations as well as post-diagnostic tests, scans and consultations. Treatment and care cover is cheaper than comprehensive care cover.

How much does Bupa health insurance cost?

It depends on a number of factors and includes (but is not limited to) your health, smoker status, location and what type of cover you are after. A healthy 30-year-old male would pay between £25 and £35 for basic health insurance, with the ability to include additional cover options which we explain in more detail below.

bupa health insurance review

What does Bupa's 'Treatment and Care' policy cover?

  • Hospital treatments
  • NHS cash benefit
  • Mental health cover
  • Out-patient therapies
  • Cancer cover
  • Treatment at home
  • Home nursing
  • 24 hour medical helpline

 

When you receive an initial 'Treatment and care' quote you are given additional cover options and we explain each of them below.

Treatment and care Cancer cover option

There are two options to consider:

Full cancer cover

If you select this option you will receive the following:

  • No financial or time limits
  • Access to eligible breakthrough drugs and treatments
  • Full cover even if your cancer comes back
  • Specialist support every step of the way

 

Selecting this cover will cost you more and we breakdown the cost later in this article.

NHS Cancer cover plus

If you select this option you will need to be treated by the NHS if you are diagnosed with Cancer. Then, if eligible, you could receive private treatment through Bupa if the radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgical operation you need to treat your cancer is not available on the NHS.

Treatment and care Hospital network option

There are three options to consider:

Essential hospital access

  • Access to 216 hospitals

Extended hospital access

  • Access to 890 hospitals

Extended choice with Central London hospital access

  • Access to 1,060 hospitals

 

Essential hospital access is the cheapest option, extended hospital access will cost a little more and the extended choice will cost you the most.

Bupa 'Treatment and care' health insurance comparison table

In the table below we compare the cost of Bupa's 'treatment and care' cover, including the cost of selecting full cancer cover and adding extended hospital lists. We have highlighted in green the quote that represents the best value for most people as it includes full cancer cover as well as an extended hospital list. Don't forget there are other factors that will impact the price you pay including how much excess you choose (the lower the excess, the more you will pay).

Based on a 30-year-old non-smoker living in the south-east of England 

Bupa health insurance policy type Excess Cancer Cover Hospital List Premium
Treatment and Care cover £500 NHS cancer cover plus Essential £25.32
Treatment and Care cover £500 NHS cancer cover plus Extended £28.54
Treatment and Care cover £500 NHS cancer cover plus Extended choice £32.37
Treatment and Care cover £500 Full cancer cover Essential £25.72
Treatment and Care cover £500 Full cancer cover Extended £28.97
Treatment and Care cover £500 Full cancer cover Extended choice £32.87

As you can see from the table above, there are many options to choose from and so you should do your research before you buy. Even better, speak to an independent health insurance specialist*, as they will be able to access quotes from every single insurance company and so are best-placed to find you the most comprehensive cover for the lowest premium possible.

What does Bupa's 'Comprehensive' policy cover?

Bupa's comprehensive cover goes further than the treatment and care cover and includes diagnostic tests and scans, out-patient consultations as well as post-diagnostic tests, scans and consultations. As it is a more comprehensive plan than the treatment and care cover, it is more expensive and we give example costs later in this article. We have summarised the main policy benefits of Bupa's comprehensive policy below.

  • Hospital treatments
  • NHS cash benefit
  • Mental health cover
  • Out-patient therapies
  • Cancer cover
  • Treatment at home
  • Home nursing
  • 24 hour medical helpline
  • Out-patient consultations
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Diagnostic scans
  • Post diagnostic tests
  • Post diagnosis out-patient consultations
  • Post diagnostic scans

 

When you receive a 'comprehensive' quote you are given additional cover options and we explain each of them below.

Out-patient cover

Out-patient cover is designed to cover an appointment at a hospital or clinic where you don’t require a bed or need to stay overnight. It can be used towards consultations, minor diagnostic tests such as X-rays, blood tests, ultrasound and therapies. Once you have exceeded the annual out-patient limit, you would need to fund further private tests, consultations and therapies as on out-patient yourself.

The out-patient benefit can be selected and you can select one of the following four options:

£500 Out-patient cover

  • Covers consultations, diagnostics and tests up to £500

£750 Out-patient cover

  • Covers consultations, diagnostics and tests up to £750

£1,000 Out-patient cover

  • Covers consultations, diagnostics and tests up to £1,000

Full Out-patient cover

  • Covers unlimited consultations, diagnostics and tests.

Treatment and care Cancer cover option

There are two options to consider:

Full cancer cover

If you select this option you will receive the following:

  • No financial or time limits
  • Access to eligible breakthrough drugs and treatments
  • Full cover even if your cancer comes back
  • Specialist support every step of the way

Selecting this cover will cost you more and we breakdown the cost here.

NHS Cancer cover plus

If you select this option you will need to be treated by the NHS if you are diagnosed with Cancer. Then, if eligible, you could receive private treatment through Bupa if the radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgical operation you need to treat your cancer is not available on the NHS.

Treatment and care Hospital network option

There are three options to consider:

Essential hospital access

  • Access to 216 hospitals

Extended hospital access

  • Access to 890 hospitals

Extended choice with Central London hospital access

  • Access to 1,060 hospitals

 

Essential hospital access is the cheapest option, extended hospital access will cost a little more and the extended choice will cost you the most.

Bupa 'comprehensive' health insurance comparison table

In the table below we compare the cost of Bupa's 'comprehensive' policy, including selecting different out-patient limits, the cost of selecting full cancer cover and also adding extended hospital lists. We have highlighted in green the quote that represents good value as it is a comprehensive plan with a good amount of out-patient cover, full cancer cover and an extended hospital list. Don't forget there are other factors that will impact the price you pay including how much excess you choose (the lower the excess, the more you will pay).

Based on a 30-year-old non-smoker living in the south-east of England 

Bupa health insurance policy type Excess Out-patient limit Cancer Cover Hospital List Premium
Comprehensive £500 £500 NHS cancer cover plus Essential £33.16
Comprehensive £500 £1,000 NHS cancer cover plus Essential £38.32
Comprehensive £500 £500 NHS cancer cover plus Extended £37.36
Comprehensive £500 £1,000 NHS cancer cover plus Extended £43.16
Comprehensive £500 £500 NHS cancer cover plus Extended choice £42.38
Comprehensive £500 £1,000 NHS cancer cover plus Extended choice £48.98
Comprehensive £500 £500 Full cancer cover Essential £33.59
Comprehensive £500 £1,000 Full cancer cover Essential £38.74
Comprehensive £500 £500 Full cancer cover Extended £37.83
Comprehensive £500 £1,000 Full cancer cover Extended £43.65
Comprehensive £500 £500 Full cancer cover Extended choice £42.93
Comprehensive £500 £1,000 Full cancer cover Extended choice £49.52

As you can see from the table above, there's a myriad of options to choose from and so it can be difficult to understand exactly what cover is best for you. We explain in the next section how an independent health insurance specialist can help you to purchase the best cover at the cheapest price.

What is not covered on a Bupa health insurance policy?

As with all health insurance providers, Bupa will not pay any claims arising from pre-existing conditions. This means that if you apply on a moratorium underwriting basis, they will not pay a claim for any condition or injury in which you have sought advice or treatment in the 5 years prior to joining. To understand more about how health insurance is underwritten, check out our article 'How to compare the best private health insurance companies'.

Is health insurance worth it?

This is a tricky one to answer because the answer will be different depending on exactly who is asking the question. If you can easily afford the premiums and do not like the idea of being put on a waiting list then there are obvious benefits to taking out health insurance. Don't forget that you can tailor the cover to your own needs, meaning you are covered for the things that matter most to you; you don't have to just go for the most expensive option.

Pros and cons of buying health insurance

Pros of buying health insurance 

  • Quicker access to consultations, scans and treatment
  • Specialist referrals at your request
  • You may be able to get access to medication or treatment not available on the NHS

Cons of buying health insurance 

  • Cover can be expensive and the cost increases as you get older
  • Does not cover chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers
  • Existing medical conditions are usually not covered

Where can I buy the cheapest Bupa health insurance policy?

The best way to buy Bupa health insurance is to speak to an independent health insurance specialist as they will be able to guide you through the decision-making process, ensuring that you understand the options and recommending the best policy for your own circumstances. Not only that, a specialist has access to the whole of the market so will be able to recommend an alternative policy that may be cheaper or one that provides more comprehensive cover.

Another thing an independent health insurance specialist can do is help with the application forms and they can chase the application on your behalf, meaning you'll often be covered far quicker.

We have partnered with Assured Futures*, one of the UK's leading private health insurance specialists in order to provide you with not just the cheapest, but the most comprehensive policies to suit your budget. All you need to get started is to click on 'Get health insurance quote'*. You can choose to build your own quote or alternatively request that an adviser from Assured Futures call you back.

Summary

Bupa's name is synonymous with health insurance and it has an excellent reputation for good reason. It has received 5,794 reviews on Trustpilot, scoring 4.3 out of 5.0, officially rating it as excellent. Those that have rated it 1 star have said that it was time-consuming and confusing. Having written lots of reviews and articles on health insurance, this is perhaps the biggest criticism and is why you should consider getting advice before you purchase.

 

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