Bupa Student Health Expenses is a health cash plan targeted at students. It is available in two levels (Level 10 and Level 20) and offers cover for a range of treatments including ‘traditional’ cash plan benefits such as physiotherapy, dental and optical and additional benefits such as an annual discount on Bupa private medical insurance and entrance fees for Bupa’s Great Run running events.
See Bupa’s website for full details.
What They Say
Tony Wood, sales and marketing director at Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said: “We know that money is tight for many students, and parents worry about their child’s welfare when they first leave home for university. Bupa Student Health Expenses is designed to give parents peace of mind and to help students stay well without having to worry about health expenses.”
What We Say
Bupa may not be top of every broker’s Christmas card list just now, but full marks for recognising a gap in the market and doing something about it. There are almost two million students at UK universities, and even more worried parents.
However, the detail of the plan does reveal some missed opportunities. First, this is a health cash plan rather than a PMI plan, and so will not pay for all private treatment – that can be an issue if the student needs an operation and wants to fit the timing in with their studies, for example. Second, the plan doesn’t cover students below 18 and provides a prescription benefit even where that is not needed (for students in Wales, under-19s and those who qualify under means testing for free prescriptions for example). Students who are not in a university or who study outside the UK are also excluded.
Both the consultations and physiotherapy benefits pay 75% rather than 100% of the cost, so any cash strapped student may simply decide not to use that benefit. The 13-week qualifying period also means students really should apply well before they actually start uni, as the first few weeks can be a key time health wise. One minor issue was that the quote we printed out featured a lot of gobbledygook too (a systems issue that should be sorted by now). Another odd feature is that covering some or all of the entry cost for a Bupa run clearly encourages sport participation (which we applaud) but, as entry is effectively by ballot for some events, is this the first insurance benefit that only lottery winners can fully benefit from?
That adds up to quite a few potential issues brokers will need to be aware of. We still like the concept (and the fact that the plan covers pre-existing conditions), but think that in terms of execution we’d have to award a third rather than a first.