Bupa says it will implement the new system of categorisation so that its four million customers gain an additional $10 million in benefits.
Under the federal government's reforms, all private health insurance policies must be categorised by April next year. However, Bupa said it will implement the new Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic cover categories from 1 July this year.
Dr Dwayne Crombie, managing director of Bupa Health Insurance, said the company had sought to add value to policies and provide customers with higher cover rather than remove items to meet the minimum criteria.
“The majority of Bupa customers will be better off or see no changes to their existing product because of the introduction of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic. People on top cover will now be on Gold cover with no changes to their hospital benefits,” he said.
“For those on Silver, Bronze or Basic cover, Bupa will be providing ‘Plus’ cover, where benefits are higher than the minimum requirements. This means we will be offering Silver plus, Bronze plus and Basic plus.
“Where we have removed items, most often in our budget products, we’ve tried to align that to the needs of customers. An example of this is joint replacements; some of our policies currently cover replacements for shoulder and ankle joints but not hip or knee. Under the new guidelines insurers have to cover all joint replacements or none at all.
“We know that many of our customers on Budget cover have limited use for hip and knee replacements so rather than add additional cost to their policy, we have chosen to remove shoulder and ankle procedures to maintain an affordable level of cover.”
Dr Crombie also said Bupa was, like all private health insurers under other federal government reforms, eliminating cover for some natural therapies.
“We’ll make it very clear to our customers where they have items removed. The aim of these reforms is to make health insurance clearer and easier to understand; we’re committed to delivering these changes in that spirit.
“Bupa is proud of maintaining meaningful value in our products for our customers. Having more in our health insurance policies is what differentiates us from our competitors,” added Dr Crombie.