Commonwealth Ombudsman releases Bupa Health Insurance Hospital Policy Changes report

Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe today released a report into Bupa Health Insurance (Bupa) Hospital Policy Changes, which were announced in February 2018. Some changes affect consumers holding basic and mid-level hospital policies from 1 July 2018, while changes to its medical gap scheme affect all Bupa hospital policyholders from 1 August 2018.

In March 2018 the Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP sought the views of the Commonwealth Ombudsman on the impact on consumers of Bupa’s announced changes.

The Ombudsman noted, “While it is a commercial decision for Bupa to determine the extent of the cover it provides over and above its statutory requirements, it is imperative that the policy changes are explained in plain English and in a way that prominently communicates their potential impact to the consumer.”

The report discusses the detrimental impacts of the changes on consumers, particularly those in regional Australia. The report also considers the appropriateness of communications that Bupa provided to policyholders about the changes.

The report makes two recommendations to improve how the changes are communicated by Bupa to their policyholders, both of which have been accepted by Bupa.

The Office welcomed Bupa’s response to our report and also their decision to extend the period for policyholders affected by the changes to upgrade their policy without having to re-serve waiting periods.