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Bupa health insurance – is it really worth the money?

Bupa is one of the most popular health insurance providers in the UK, but do they provide the best value for money for their customers?

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 9 October 2023

14 min read

Bupa health insurance – is it really worth the money?

Before I’d ever properly looked into what health insurance is and what it does, I was already aware of Bupa. I didn’t necessarily have a full understanding of what they did or how their policies worked, but I knew that they were a very popular choice for health insurance policies in the UK.

This is something I would still agree with years later (and with a lot more knowledge) as Bupa is one of the UK’s biggest health insurance providers with more than 2 million customers across the country. The main question is ‘why do so many UK consumers choose Bupa private health insurance for their policies?’

Bupa has a brilliant reputation (like I said I knew of them before I even really knew what they did) and a great record for good customer service. They provide high levels of cover and a decent range of additional benefits such as cheaper gym memberships and discounts on dental treatments and health checks.

It’s important to have a good understanding of the insurance provider you choose, their claims history and what other health insurance customers think about the service they have received. Bupa has a lot to offer to UK consumers but they’re not going to be the right choice for everyone, so it’s important to do some research and think about all your options.

QUICK SUMMARY – Bupa health insurance review

Bupa is well respected by both consumers and insurance brokers and is still one of the most popular options for health cover, even as more health insurance providers have become available. They have more than 2 million UK customers (16.7 million globally) and a range of flexible policies to suit different types of customers.

  • You have two main options for cover: Treatment and Care (lower insurance premiums) or Comprehensive Cover, so you can choose what fits best with how much you can afford to spend.
  • Bupa has policies available for individuals, couples, families and businesses – and some great discounts and benefits for group cover.
  • Bupa health insurance (and health insurance in general) can be expensive, so it won’t be the right choice for every person. You should think about your own situation and if health insurance is something you can realistically afford.
  • If you need extra advice or information about Bupa and their policies, you can speak to a health insurance specialist for free, expert advice.

There’s been plenty of times where I’ve heard references to Bupa in various TV shows and I’ve seen many advertisements for their products over the years. This meant that I have always known that Bupa was clearly popular, I just didn’t really know why until several years ago.

Here are the main things that I’ve learned about Bupa and their health insurance policies since then that may be helpful if you don’t know much about them:

  • Bupa been providing health insurance in the UK since April 1947. Initially, their main focus was on company health insurance schemes, and before they were 10 years old they already had over 200,000 members (by 1955).
  • Bupa has more than 16.7 million health insurance customers across the world, providing policies in more than 170 countries – if you’re looking for a large and experienced health insurance provider Bupa could be a good place to start.
  • Bupa has won countless industry awards over the years with some of their recent wins including the Cover Excellence Outstanding Group Health Insurance Award 2022 and the UK Health & Protection Awards Provider of the Year 2022.

Why should I choose Bupa over another health insurance provider?

You know what this really is the main question isn’t it, whether you should choose Bupa over somebody else. Bupa might be a popular choice, but they’re definitely not the only choice for health insurance in the UK.

Some of your other options for health insurance policies include:

All of these health insurance providers are going to have pros and cons attached to them which you will need to consider. I also can’t say you should definitely choose Bupa over somebody else, because what is right for you will depend on your own situation and the type and level of cover that you need.

Who does Bupa Health insurance work best for?

While I can’t say 100% whether Bupa will be the best fit for you and the cover you need, their policies are known to work well for certain types of customers.

  1. Families – Bupa has recently reworked their family health insurance to provide better support for children’s healthcare (mental health in particular). Their new Bupa Family+ product will also cover your younger children for FREE if your oldest child is insured up to age 20.
  2. Couples – couples looking for joint healthcare will benefit from a 5% discount if they choose Bupa, plus the usual range of customer benefits such as gym discounts
  3. Older customers – we will all pay more for health insurance as we get older. Bupa will usually offer the fairest price for older health insurance applicants.

Private healthcare is always going to be expensive, which is why health insurance exists to help cover the costs. Realistically, the main thing most people will look for when buying private health insurance is also how much it costs. Private medical insurance might save you money overall, but no one wants to be stuck with a massive monthly bill.

It’s understandable to want to know how much Bupa health insurance costs before you commit to buying a policy. Bupa health insurance UK costs can be reasonable, but you need to do some digging to find the best deals.

Bupa isn’t always going to be the cheapest option and it’s a bit complicated to work out who is cheapest as prices vary depending on who’s applying. When you apply for health insurance, how much you pay will be decided by:

  • Your age
  • Where you live (your post code)
  • Claims history (if you already have a policy)
  • Any additional benefits (add ons)
  • Type of policy
  • The amount of excess you pay
  • Smoker status
  • Level of cover chosen

How much does Bupa cost monthly?

If you’re wondering how much is Bupa health insurance in the UK, you’re not the only one. Hundreds of people are searching for this every month, while trying to work out an idea of how much they could expect to pay.

I won’t be able to tell you exactly how much you can expect to pay, as pricing will vary for each person who applies. What I can say is that the price will be much lower for younger people, which is standard for health insurance (and most types of individual protection).

Based on our research, people who are 20 years old can expect to pay on average around £30 per month for a comprehensive policy. This is pretty reasonable, but you can expect this to rise significantly over the years, with those over 60 paying more like £100 per month for their cover.

Is Bupa worth the money?

After all my research into Bupa and my knowledge of how their products work, I would say that Bupa offers good value for money for their customers. Here are some of the main features of Bupa that help provide value for their customers:

  • They include mental health cover at no extra cost (many insurers will want you add this on and pay extra for it) – and cover more mental health conditions than other providers
  • They include comprehensive cancer cover (and the option to choose NHS Cancer Care Plus if you have a lower budget for cover)
  • You can be covered for private treatment in anywhere between 200-1,000+ UK private hospitals (depending on the hospital list you choose)
  • Bupa Insurance health cover includes additional diagnostics cover at no extra cost
  • Bupa is an award winning provider with a great track record for customer service and the benefits and services available for Bupa members
  • You can claim brilliant health and wellbeing rewards such as huge gym discounts (40% off), discounted smart watches (20% off Fitbit) and more.
  • 24/7 online health support services available (digital GP) and helplines run by qualified nurses to answer your health questions.

However while they do offer good value for money, Bupa (and health insurance in general) might not be an affordable option for everyone. You should weigh up your options and think about your own situation before deciding to buy a policy like health insurance. You need to consider things like:

  • If private healthcare is something you really need
  • If you are happy with the level of care available on the NHS
  • Is it essential to have the extra benefits included with Bupa policies?
  • Would you have enough money saved to cover the costs of private care yourself?

I get that health insurance can feel really complicated to understand, especially if you’ve never bought a policy before or you’re switching to a new provider. Here’s the main things you need to know about how Bupa health insurance works.

Bupa health insurance will help you to cover the cost of private medical treatment, allowing you to get the care you need without waiting in long NHS queues. You will need to be registered with a UK GP and be a UK resident to apply for cover and you have the choice of two policy options with Bupa:

  1. Treatment and care: this is a lower cost option which gives you access to private specialists and treatment after being diagnosed by an NHS doctor first
  2. Comprehensive cover: this gives you the highest level of cover and is the policy that most Bupa customers choose. These policies cover you for diagnosis and treatment and is the most comprehensive health insurance sold by Bupa (as the name suggests).

You will also have the choice of 3 hospital lists if you buy health insurance from Bupa, and the one you choose will affect how much you pay and how many hospitals you can claim for treatment in.

  • Essential – Bupa Essential Access lets you claim for treatment in 265 Bupa approved private hospitals.
  • Extended – Bupa Extended Choice lets you claim for treatment in 1,069 Bupa approved private hospitals.
  • Extended + London – Bupa Extended Choice with Central London lets you claim for treatment in 1,291 Bupa approved private hospitals (more options in the Central London area).

Note: Bupa health insurance won’t cover the cost of treating pre-existing or chronic (long term) medical conditions. It also won’t pay for emergency medical treatment e.g. a visit to A&E.

What types of health insurance does Bupa sell?

One thing that can feel difficult is working out what type of health insurance you need or how to tailor your cover so it works best for you. Bupa Insurance Services Limited have a few different health insurance products available, so you can pick the one that makes the most sense for your own situation.

  • Bupa individual health insurance – covers the cost of private healthcare for one person
  • Bupa Family+ health insurance – covers the cost of private healthcare for you and your family (with a 10% discount), will cover your younger children for free if you insure your oldest child
  • Bupa couples health insurance – covers you and your partner (with a 5% discount)
  • Bupa business health insurance (small business, 1-249 employees) – covers private healthcare costs for your employees to help reduce employee sickness
  • Bupa company health insurance (corporate, 250+ employees) – covers private healthcare costs for your employees to help reduce employee sickness

Note: Anyone who isn’t sure of which policy to choose of if Bupa is the right provider for them can speak to a health insurance expert for free specialist advice.

Type of policyBupa Private Medical Insurance
Policy optionsComprehensive health cover
Treatment and care cover
Range of policiesIndividual health insurance
Family health insurance (Family+)
Couples health insurance
Business health insurance (small business health insurance or corporate cover)
What is included in my policy?With Bupa health insurance, you are covered for:  

In patient and day patient hospital treatment
In patient and day patient mental health treatment (up to 28 days per year)
MRI, CT and PET scans (diagnostic)
Unlimited outpatient cancer treatment
Cancer cover options (full cover or NHS Cancer Care Plus)
Private ambulance transport (£60 per journey)
NHS cash benefit (£50 per night for NHS hospital stays, for up to 35 nights max.)
Enhanced NHS cash benefit (for in patient NHS cancer care)
Parental accommodation benefit (for if your child is having in patient hospital treatment)
Bupa wellbeing rewards and benefits e.g. 24/7 online GP  
Is there anything Bupa won’t cover?Bupa health insurance will not cover you for:  

Nursing care (general)
Medical exclusions (specified in your policy)
Hospital treatment or conditions excluded in your policy
Outpatient medication and dressings (not including cancer patients)
Alternative therapies
Routine tests, monitoring or health screenings (certain cancer related screenings may be covered)
A&E visits and other emergency treatment
Allergies or food intolerances
Complications from excluded conditions or treatments
Deafness (not including deafness due to injury or acute medical conditions)
Eyesight correction (not including treatment due to injury or acute medical conditions)
Gender affirmation treatments
Epidemic or pandemic diseases
Weight loss treatments
Sleep or sleep related disorders
How long does Bupa health insurance cover you for?Your health insurance policy will cover you for 1 year (12 months) from the start of your policy.  
After this your policy will renew automatically, unless you contact Bupa to cancel.
Where can I claim for medical treatment with Bupa?Bupa health insurance will cover the cost of medical treatment within the UK (not including Isle of Man or Channel Islands).
Levels of cover availableBupa policies are flexible so you can adjust the policy to suit the level of cover you need.  
You can:  

Add on family members
Choose one of 3 hospital lists
Choose NHS treatment and care (lower cost)
Add or remove extra benefits e.g Bupa dental cover
When will I pay for Bupa health insurance?You can pay for Bupa health cover either monthly or annually by Direct Debit.

Bupa offers some of the most comprehensive cancer cover that I’ve seen from a UK provider. I know I have a significant family history of cancer, so if I was wanting to buy health insurance having decent cancer cover would be a main priority for me. I imagine many UK consumers will be in the same situation and have the same concerns.

Most health insurance providers will offer some form of cover for cancer, but Bupa takes things further with additional benefits included completely free. Some of the main features of Bupa’s full cancer cover are:

  • Unlimited cover for cancer treatment
  • Specialist support throughout treatment and recovery
  • Breakthrough treatments and medications (access before they are available on the NHS)
  • At home chemotherapy option if you would prefer not to be in hospital
  • Access to your own specialist oncology support team
  • Mental health counselling to help support you emotionally with qualified counsellors
  • Can be seen at specialist Bupa cancer centres for faster diagnosis (for breast and bowel cancer symptoms)

Note: Bupa also offers the option of NHS Cancer Cover Plus instead of full cancer cover. This is a lower cost option (helpful for tighter budgets) which means you only get private cancer care (following NHS diagnosis) if the NHS can’t provide the treatment you need.

Does Bupa cover pre-existing conditions?

No, as a general rule health insurance won’t cover the cost of treatment for a pre-existing medical condition and Bupa isn’t an exception to this. It might feel unfair which is understandable, but it isn’t what health insurance is designed for.

The aim of health insurance is to help cover the cost of treatment for acute (curable) medical conditions that aren’t ongoing (chronic).

What are the pros and cons of Bupa Health insurance?

ProCon
High level of cancer cover (with access to treatment not available yet from the NHS)Bupa website is hard to navigate and find the information you need (a lot of different guides and pages)
High level of mental health cover (covers more conditions than other providers) – included as standard where other insurers may want you to pay extraDoesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions or chronic medical conditions (this is the same for most insurance providers)
Well known insurer with a great reputation (can be reassuring when choosing an insurance provider)You might need some extra advice and support to work out your best options for cover
Discounts for certain joint policies e.g. 10% discount for families and 5% discount for couplesCan’t protect your no claims discount option

There are a lot of reasons that you might need to speak to someone at Bupa and these are the main contact details that are available.

Bupa health insurance telephone number (general enquiries)

Tel. 0808 256 6607

Online – Bupa contact form (they will get back to you as soon as possible)

Opening hours: 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 12.30pm Saturday

Is it easy to claim on Bupa health insurance?

To be honest, Bupa doesn’t have the simplest claims process especially compared to other providers such as National Friendly who have one claims phone number to call.

The number you need to call will depend on what type of health issue you are claiming for which I’d say is a more complicated process than it really needs to be. This is what you need to do when you claim.

  1. Talk to your GP (or a Bupa online GP)
  2. Get an open referral for the treatment you need
  3. Call the relevant Bupa claims number for your symptoms
  4. You will be asked for your membership number, what your symptoms are, details of the treatment you need and the type of specialist you’ve been recommended
  5. Bupa will decide whether your claim is valid and approve or deny it
  6. If your claim is approved, you can have your treatment and Bupa will pay the bill

Bupa Cancer Direct Access Team

Tel. 0800 012 1305

Opening hours: 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am – 4pm Saturday

Bone and joint pain symptoms

Tel. 0345 609 0111

Opening hours: 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am – 4pm Saturday

Mental health symptoms

Tel. 0808 231 5114

Opening hours: 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday

Moles or skin lesion symptoms

Tel. 0345 609 0111

Opening hours: 8.30am – 6pm Monday to Friday

Any other symptoms

Tel. 0345 609 0111

How do I cancel Bupa Health insurance?

It’s easy to feel trapped with an insurance policy or that trying to cancel isn’t worth the hassle. This isn’t true though as you’re never locked in indefinitely and insurers shouldn’t make it overly difficult to cancel a policy.

If you want to cancel your Bupa health insurance policy, you will need to contact Bupa directly. If you cancel within the first 21 days of your policy, you will be refunded the money you have already spent as you will be within the ‘cooling off’ period.

To cancel your policy, get in touch with Bupa in one of the following ways:

Tel. 0800 010 383

Email – consumer.cancellations@bupa.com

Post:

Bupa,

Bupa Place,

102 The Quays,

Salford,

How do I complain about Bupa health insurance?

Sometimes insurance policies or providers don’t live up to expectations which is really disappointing and you’ve always got the right to complain if this happens. My first suggestion for if you are unhappy with Bupa is to contact them directly.

They state on the Bupa website that their aim is to resolve all complaints within 5 working days. Let’s be honest this is optimistic and it may sometimes take longer depending on the nature of what you are complaining about. Bupa should update you while they are processing your complaint and it shouldn’t take longer than 8 weeks at most.

If it does take longer or you’re not happy with the outcome, you can speak to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for extra help and support. They are an impartial service designed to help consumers who have issues with financial services businesses like Bupa.

Bupa health insurance contact details (complaints)

Tel. 0345 606 6739

Email – customerrelations@bupa.com

Online – Bupa live chat (9am – 5pm Monday to Friday)

Post:

Customer Relations,

Bupa,

Bupa Place,

102 The Quays,

Salford,

M50 3SP

Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) contact details

Tel. 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Tel. 0207 964 0500 (overseas)

Bupa health insurance reviews

Customer reviews are really important for businesses like insurance providers and I’d always suggest looking into what other customers think about an insurer before you buy a policy. You’re better off finding out that an insurer has a poor customer service record before you already have a policy with them. Bupa is well rated by their customers and generally have a good reputation which can be reassuring when trying to choose an insurance provider.

The best place to look for independent customer reviews is websites like TrustPilot, compared to business websites where they may not show their more negative reviews.

Bupa UK Insurance (TrustPilot score) – 4.0 out of 5.0 stars (with over 20,000 reviews)

% of 5 star reviews – 67% of reviews rated Bupa 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 4 star reviews – 13% of reviews rated Bupa 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 3 star reviews – 6% of reviews rated Bupa 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 2 star reviews – 5% of reviews rated Bupa 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 1 star reviews – 9% of reviews rated Bupa 1.0 out of 5.0 stars

How do I buy Bupa health insurance?

There are a couple of different ways to buy private health insurance from Bupa. You can:

  1. Apply for Bupa UK health insurance directly (over the phone or online)
  2. Check prices and apply through a price comparison site
  3. Apply with the help of a health insurance expert

Any of these ways can work, it’s up to you which one would work best for you and your own situation. I would say that the easiest way to apply would be with the help of a specialist as they can compare policies for you and find the best prices more quickly.

They can look at the available Bupa health insurance quote to figure out your best option for cover – or if it’s worth looking at another provider entirely.

To find out more about health insurance, you can speak to our trusted health insurance partner by calling 0800 009 6559 or clicking here.

More health insurance guides

If you want to read more of what MPO has to say about health insurance, here are some of our recent health insurance guides.

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