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Bupa’s response to ‘Watchdog’ programme. Following the Watchdog programme on BBC1 we attach Bupa’s response.

“You may have seen last night’s ‘Watchdog’ programme on BBC1, which featured an item about recent changes made to consultant reimbursement rates by Bupa and AXA. Following the programme, Bupa wanted to provide customers with some information to answer your questions.

Bupa are making significant changes to their offerings as part of their strategy to make high quality, affordable healthcare accessible to more people. To help them do this Bupa work in the interests of their members to ensure that they pay consultants a fair price for treatment. Doing this ensures that Bupa’s members are able to continue to access advanced treatments such as the latest life-saving cancer drugs, and not see their premiums go up.

Bupa are aware that the cost of health insurance is a big issue for customers. Insurers currently spend over £1billion on consultants fees. Further inflation would quickly translate into significant increases for our customers.

Bupa’s members can choose from over 10,000 highly qualified, experienced private consultants whose fees are covered in full by Bupa. Last night’s Watchdog included a case study of a Bupa member who has had cataract surgery on both eyes. The member faced a significant shortfall because, although she was offered the choice of having her operation with all the costs paid by us, she selected a consultant who is Bupa recognised, but not fee assured, and was charged above the rate Bupa reimburses for that procedure.

The charge was £1,200 for cataract surgery, the most common operation performed in the UK and a procedure that normally takes only 15 to 20 minutes, which equates to an hourly fee of £3,600. Many other experienced consultants are happy to undertake this routine operation for Bupa’s standard fee level, which is considerably higher than the NHS consultant rate for this surgery.

The consultant featured in the programme is a high profile member of the Federation of Independent Practitioner Organisations (FIPO), a private consultants’ trade body which campaigns for higher consultant reimbursement.

Bupa do not want their members to receive additional bills following treatment so they always ask them to call before arranging their treatment so that Bupa can confirm that their care will be covered in full.”

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Simon Hurley-Smith



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