Bupa says the "extraordinary profits" some claimed the pandemic would deliver private health insurers have not materialised.
Australia's largest private health insurer joined Private Healthcare Australia in dismissing claims the sector has profited from restrictions on access to health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have responded to recent reports claiming insurers have saved $1 billion during the pandemic as a result of the now lifted ban on elective surgery and restrictions on access to ancillary services such as dental and optical.
According to Emily Amos, the managing director of Bupa Health Insurance, from the start of the pandemic, it has been committed to acting in the best interest of customers and not seek to benefit from the unprecedented situation.
She said, "The pause on non-urgent elective surgery and some ancillary services lasted for six weeks as opposed to the several months that were originally projected. During this 6-week period all Bupa customers still had access to urgent dental and hospital procedures (cardiology, pregnancy, emergency dental etc…) in the private system with their choice of doctor.
"Ancillary claims and surgeries are now tracking at a level consistent with 2019 and procedures such as hip and knee replacements are at levels higher than pre-COVID. We anticipate that this trend will continue well into 2021."
Ms Amos said it has supported customers during the pandemic in "pragmatic" ways, including a $50m hardship fund and postponing the approved 1 April premium increase for six months. This postponement saved customers $134 million.
She said it has also extended its hospital policy cover to include lung and chest conditions arising from COVID-19 infection and expanded coverage to include some telehealth services and the online purchase of some health aids and medical appliances.
"Moving forward, we will continuing to monitor the impact that COVID-19 is having on our customers and the increase in claims as surgery and health services begin returning to normal levels," added Ms Amos.