Bupa International’s new plan is called Bupa Flex, and it is unusual in that it is a short-term international private medical insurance (iPMI) available for an initial 3-11 month period but which can then be extended if necessary.
The plan is targeted at people who are only going to be working abroad for a relatively short period of time.
The plan itself is available in two versions—Flex and Flex Plus.
- Bupa Flex. This is the basic plan and it excludes all outpatient treatment apart from surgical operations. Inpatient and day-case treatment is covered, usually on a full refund basis.
- Bupa Flex Plus. This adds out-patient pathology, x-rays and diagnostic tests; consultants’ and family doctors’ fees; vaccinations (up to £150); prescribed drugs and dressings (up to £500), and accident-related dental treatment (up to £500).
Both plans cover advanced imaging, healthcare services, ambulances (local air and road) and assistance cover (evacuation and repatriation).
The maximum annual benefit is £1m (or $1.7m or €1.2m). There is quite a wide range of exclusion, including cancer cover (although the initial diagnosis is covered); deafness; HIV/AIDS; home nursing; pre-existing conditions; psychiatric treatment, and treatment in the US. A range of deductibles is available to reduce cost.
The 55 page membership guide usefully starts with how to contact Bupa International and how to claim (and the importance of pre-authorisation) and only then goes on to explain the plan itself.
What They Say
Marketing director Muriel MacCallum said: “We’ve listened to our customers and designed Bupa Flex specifically for their short term needs. If you are relocating abroad, or travelling on an overseas assignment through work, you don’t necessarily want to take out a full year’s policy, but you still want the comprehensiveness cover iPMI provides.”
What We Say
"This is an interesting niche product and we shall see whether it develops into a recognised market in its own right. The plan offers two levels of cover but there are some extensive exclusions, including cancer treatment. Traditional iPMI may be a better choice if the client is likely to spend more than 11 months abroad but many clients may not know that in advance and so risk having to pay for a year’s cover when they won’t need that.
"Perhaps the real alternative though for many will be to rely on their travel insurance cover. That could be a big mistake, as its cover can be more limited than many will realise – perhaps until it is too late."