Bupa has pledged a rebate for its UK insurance customers from any financial benefit it derives from reduced hospital activity during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Last month, independent sector healthcare providers signed a deal with NHS England to turn over almost all private hospital capacity to the NHS in the wake of the pandemic. Some urgent care, such as cancer treatment, is expected to continue, but virtually all private elective work has been cancelled for at least 14 weeks from 23 March.
In the short-term, insurers are expected to benefit from the dramatic reduction in claims. However, Bupa said it was ‘committing to pass back any exceptional financial benefit’ arising from the outbreak to its UK health insurance customers.
Bupa UK Insurance CEO Alex Perry said: ‘Most treatments which are deferred will be delivered and funded by us as soon as possible when things get back to normal. However, we think it’s likely that there will be a reduction overall. At this point, no one can predict the full impact, but we are letting our health insurance customers know that we will do the right thing for them.’
Despite the potential short-term gains, PMI providers face a potentially massive hit from the global pandemic. Earlier this month, GlobalData said PMI customers were likely to consider cancelling policies if they were unable to access private treatment. And this is likely to be exacerbated by job losses and the worsening economic outlook.
Insurers are looking to mitigate the impact by extending services such as online consultations and health advice.
However, as yet there has been little information on how the industry intends to deal with the fact that private hospital services will be severely restricted and possibly non-existent for much of the year.
Bupa said it would provide further details on how it intends to rebate customers when the likely impact of the Covid-19 crisis becomes clearer.
‘We will commission a third-party review to ensure that what we do is fair and reasonable across our different customer groups,’ added Perry. ‘At Bupa our customers come first, and we want to show this in a tangible way.’