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Bupa abandons cancer cost and time limits

Bupa has announced it will no longer sell corporate private medical insurance (PMI) schemes which feature overall cost or time limits for cancer treatment.

Claimed by the healthcare group as an industry first, Bupa said experience has shown that limits mean that patients who claim on their policies can be left vulnerable at critical points in their treatment.

Cancer treatment costs increased sharply in 2005 and 2006 due to the introduction of new drugs. In response the PMI market developed financial benefit caps and time limits to limit financial exposure for client businesses.

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Once employees reach their benefit ceiling they face the possibility of having to change their treatment mid-stream. The varying cost of cancer drugs also makes it difficult to make informed choices about treatment, and its likely cost, at the point of diagnosis.

Commenting on the changes Dr Natalie-Jane Macdonald, managing director, Bupa Health and Wellbeing explained: "We work closely with our clients to help them to provide their employees with the best quality healthcare at a sustainable affordable cost, and this remains a priority for us. We have developed better, fairer ways of controlling healthcare costs without compromising the experience and outcomes of patients at a difficult time in their lives."

In 2010 Bupa spent £18m on drugs and routinely funds cancer treatments that are approved by the European Medicines Agency. Bupa said it will also pay for experimental drugs when clinically appropriate.


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