Review of Bupa Private Health Insurance in Australia 2019

Published: January 25, 2019

If you have private health insurance with Bupa and recently received an email about changes to their hospital policies, you might be wondering if they can still help you achieve a healthier, happier life.

Alternatively, maybe you're considering getting coverage from Bupa seeing as they own 26.9% of the Australian health insurance market.

Whatever your reason for wanting to review Bupa health insurance, this article will help guide you in finding the answers you're looking for.

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How much does Bupa private health insurance cost?

The premium you can expect to pay generally depends on the state you live in, the type of cover you want (Hospital, Extras or Combined), and the level of coverage you're looking for; comprehensive, medium or basic, as well as the excess/ co-payment you're willing to pay if purchasing a Hospital policy.

Bupa health insurance review 2019

Bupa offers a variety of cover options for you choose from; Hospital only policies, Bupa Extras or Combined packages. They also have ambulance-only policy options available for those not covered for ambulance services by their state government.

Hospital only coverage

Bupa Hospital insurance helps cover the costs incurred while being treated in a hospital. You have the option of adjusting your premium by choosing your excess amount; zero, $250 or $500 excess. Generally, the higher your choice of co-payment, the lower your monthly premium.

Before we list the different Hospital policies available, let’s first delve into the recent Bupa hospital policy changes.

From 1 July 2018, Bupa will no longer pay minimum benefits (restricted cover) for certain services listed in their Basic and Mid-level hospital policies, including:

  • Hip and knee replacement
  • Cataract and eye lens procedures
  • Renal dialysis for chronic renal failure
  • Pregnancy and birth related services
  • IVF and assisted reproductive services
  • Obesity-related procedures and surgeries
  • Abdominoplasty and lipectomy
  • Cardiac and cardiac-related services
  • All other services receiving Medicare benefits

Important: Bupa will also no longer pay the medical gap benefit when receiving treatment as a private patient in a public hospital or when going to a hospital that's not in their network of contracted hospitals.

If you have a Bupa Hospital policy, please login to your myBupa account to see whether you’re affected by these changes. You might want to compare their offering to some of the other major health insurance companies in Australia to make sure you’re still receiving value for money.

Top Hospital

Bupa’s most comprehensive hospital policy generally includes coverage for all the above-listed services, for example, hip and knee replacement, IVF and cataract surgery.

Top Hospital no pregnancy

Offers complete coverage, similar to the above policy, but excludes pregnancy, IVF, obesity-related surgery and hospital treatments for which Medicare does not pay a benefit, for example, cosmetic surgery. However, it does include their free, independent opinion service from Best Doctors and the Ultimate Advice Line.

Standard Hospital

This is Bupa’s medium level hospital option and is usually a good fit for young and healthy individuals. While this policy does provide coverage for cardiac and pregnancy services, it excludes cataract surgery, hip and knee replacement, assisted reproductive services and dialysis.

Budget Hospital

An affordable policy option covering accommodation, accidents and restricted coverage for psychiatric services. However, this policy does not cover spinal fusion and any breast procedures, except where required post breast cancer.

Basic Hospital

The cheapest Bupa hospital policy that will enable you to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS), but excludes most services, plus back surgery.

Hospital waiting periods

The amount of time you’ll have to wait, after starting your policy, before claiming a benefit:

  • Emergency ambulance treatment: None
  • Accidents: None
  • Palliative care, rehabilitation and psychiatric care: 2 months
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: 12 months
  • Pregnancy and birth-related services: 12 months

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Bupa Extras

Extras helps cover the costs associated with treatments and services received outside of the hospital, allowing you to keep your health on track. However, Extras only cover will not exempt you from paying the MLS or Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading.

Bronze Extras
Up to 60% back
The most affordable extras option, which includes emergency ambulance services and covers general dental, Bupa optical, physiotherapy, chiro, antenatal and postnatal services up to your yearly limits.
Your Choice Extras
Up to 60% back
You can choose to be covered for any 4 of their listed services: General dental, major dental, endodontic, orthodontic, optical, non-PBS pharmaceuticals, physiotherapy, chiro, or podiatry.
Silver Extras
Up to 60% - 66% back
Includes most general treatment services up to your yearly limit with non-PBS pharmaceuticals, hearing aids and blood glucose monitors having sub-limits.
Gold Extras
Up to 75% - 82.5%
This is Bupa's top Extras cover option that covers all ancillary services with restrictions on PBS pharmaceuticals, hearing aids and blood glucose monitors.
Platinum Extras
Up to 90% back
Bupa’s most feature-packed extras with up to 100% back on Members First* dental, physio, chiro and selected optical consultations, up to your yearly limit.

*Members First is Bupa’s network of providers, which includes thousands of dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and Bupa optical outlets across Australia.

Extras waiting periods

Remember, this is the period of time that needs to pass before you can claim your new policy or upgraded cover:

  • Emergency ambulance services: None.
  • General dental: 2 months
  • Major dental, endodontic and orthodontic: 12 months
  • Optical: 2 months
  • Physio, chiro and podiatry: 2 months
  • Purchase of health aids and appliances: 12 months
  • Hire and repair of health aids and tools: 6 months
  • Health management programs: 6 months

Hospital and Extras Packages

If you prefer to combine your Hospital cover with Extras, then you can choose one of Bupa’s many packages.

Active Saver

A low-cost combination package that’s generally a good fit for young and healthy individuals. This package includes cover for accidents and emergency ambulance services with a yearly combined limit of $1,000 on general dental, physiotherapy and chiro.

Simple Start (single or couple)

An affordable Hospital and Extras policy that covers a limited number of hospital services and restricted cover on rehabilitation, psychiatrist services and palliative care, with general dental, optical, physio and chiro covered at Member First providers

Young Singles Saver or Young Couples Saver

This package is affordable and offers Basic Hospital cover with 60% back on Members First dental, physio, chiro, podiatry and selected optical.

Young Singles Choice or Young Couples Choice

Designed for young and healthy singles or couples, depending on the package you’ve selected. It includes cover listed in the Budget Hospital policy and provides 60% back on Extras from Members First Providers, including psychology services.

Budget Family

This affordable package cares for your family’s well-being while keeping premiums low. Hospital cover includes hospital treatment and accommodation, but excludes most other services, although psychiatric services are provided to a limited extent. You can claim up to 60% back on a long list of Extras available from Members First Providers, including general and major dental, orthodontics, Bupa optical, physio and chiro.

Growing Family

Hospital coverage includes services like pregnancy and IVF, plus there’s no excess for kids. You'll receive 60% for Members First selected products which include orthodontics.

Established Family

This package is typically better suited to families with older kids as it does not cover pregnancy and birth-related services but does include cardiac and hip and knee replacements. Get up to 60% back on Members First Providers for most general treatment services.

Prime Plus

An affordable, medium-level package option usually ideal for more mature singles and couples who aren’t planning to have kids but might need health aids and appliances in future. You'll receive up to 70% back on extras services at Bupa's Members First network providers.

Ultimate Health Cover

This package is Bupa's ‘all-in-one' deal, which combines Top Hospital and Platinum Extras.

Bupa’s Ambulance-only cover options

Bupa offers Emergency Only Ambulance cover and Premium Ambulance cover:

Emergency Only Ambulance

Gives you unlimited ambulance transport in emergencies, like fractured bones or severe chest pain. You’ll also receive on-the-spot emergency treatment Australia-wide.

Premium Ambulance

The same as Emergency Only Ambulance but includes coverage for non-emergency road and air ambulance trips from a recognised provider.

How to claim Bupa health insurance

  • When visiting a public hospital or Members First Network, the hospital will send your bill directly to Bupa.
  • When visiting a hospital that doesn’t have an agreement with Bupa, pay upfront and submit your claim form to Bupa.
  • For a doctor using Bupa’s gap cover scheme, billing will typically go directly to Bupa.
  • When going to a doctor that doesn’t use Bupa’s gap cover scheme, you’ll have to take your medical bill to Medicare and Bupa will pay the rest, up to your limit.
  • When claiming Extras cover at one of their service providers, swipe your Bupa membership card at their electronic claims’ facility, or
  • Login to your myBupa account and submit your claim online, or
  • You can post your claim form, and attached invoice and receipt to Bupa and payments will be made through EFT or cheque.

How to join Bupa private health

If you don’t have private health insurance, you can become a Bupa member by visiting their website, requesting a quote and applying for a policy. New customers purchasing a select combined Hospital and Extras policy before 28 February 2019, can get 6 weeks free coverage after your first month's premium.

After joining, you’ll usually receive your Bupa card which contains your membership number and the list of people covered under your policy.

When switching to Bupa from another health fund, you only need to permit them to contact your old insurer, and they'll handle all the paperwork. However, your limits will transfer when changing health funds and you might not be able to claim on new or increased benefits until you've served the required waiting period.

If applying from outside Australia, Bupa health insurance for visitors can generally be obtained by calling their +61-number available on their website. You might have to provide proof of identity, your visa details and your age. When joining from a Bupa overseas branch, you typically only need to provide your Bupa overseas membership details.

Your FAQs answered

Who owns Bupa healthcare?

Bupa health insurance in Australia is owned by the Bupa Group called Bupa Global, an international health and care company that started in the UK in 1947.

What did Bupa use to be called?

Bupa was initially called the British United Provident Association, established in 1947 when four large and 13 smaller associations and contributory hospital schemes came together to create a private company.

The four large associations included the Central Provident Association, the British Provident Association, the Oxford and District Provident Association, and the Birmingham Extended Benefit Scheme.

How to cancel Bupa health insurance

Download and complete their cancellation form available on their website and mail it to their Brisbane, Queensland office. Alternatively, call them directly but ensure you receive written confirmation that your policy has been cancelled.

Does Bupa cover gym membership?

Yes, generally as a Bupa member you can access the Bupa Plus program and get discounts on a variety of gyms, including 15% off the monthly membership fee from EFM Health Clubs , 10% off Fitness First new 3 and 12 month contract memberships and a 15% discount on Goodlife Health Clubs when on an Active 12 month membership.

What is Bupa dental?

Bupa owned dental clinics are spread-out all-over Australia, with more than 140 clinics country-wide. These Members First Network dental clinics offer a wide range of services at affordable prices with gap-free treatment for selected kids services.

When does Bupa private health insurance reset?

Your maximum benefit amount usually resets on the 1st of January every year. Unclaimed benefit limits do not roll over to the next year.

How do you suspend health insurance coverage?

You can generally suspend your membership for a minimum of 2 months, up to 2 years, when travelling outside of Australia. During this time, you won't have to pay premiums, and you won't be covered for any services or treatments.

To be eligible for such a suspension, you must have had cover in place for at least 12 months, be up to date with payments, notify Bupa private health insurance of your intention to suspend and contact them 30 days before arriving back in Australia.

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Thanks for reaching out!

We will review your comment and get back to you as soon as possible. If your inquiry is urgent, please use the phone number listed at the top of this page.

Talk to you soon.

Ask an Expert?


  • F Egan |

    How much per month for Top Hospital no extras cover?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi, we need a little more information to provide you with an accurate quote, including the state you live in and whether you’re single or need cover for the whole family.

      To give you an idea of Bupa’s Top Hospital only price range, a single adult living in NSW can expect to pay about $244.60 per month. Take note that this premium does not yet include the April health insurance premium increase.

  • Gill selig |

    What is the price for a senior couple 81 years old to have Prime Plus? One is in a nursing home the other lives in a retirement villa

    They are currently on Bupa health smart plan with a $ 500 excess. They live in NSW.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Gill.

      To get the best possible price for seniors health insurance we suggest comparing policies. To give you an idea, as of April 2018:
      • Bupa Prime Plus $500 Excess: $561.50 per month
      • GMHBA V Pus Gold Package: $648.54 per month
      • Australian Unity Top Choice: $528.20 per month.
      • Nib Premier Plus $500 Excess: $746.74 per month.

      It all depends what type of hospital and extras coverage they need. However, with a seniors health care card they can save a lot more.

      Give us a call on 1300 786 328 so a specialist can help you find the most affordable coverage.

  • JW |

    Under Hospitals and Medical Services cover, what exactly is covered in Minor Gynaecological Surgery please?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |


      Generally, minor gynaecological surgeries refer to such procedures like insertion or removal of an IUD or a colposcopy which is the examination of the cervix using a microscope to evaluate an abnormal pap smear and a hysteroscopy which refers to the inspection of the uterine cavity using a tiny trans-cervical telescope.

      In short, ‘minor’ usually indicates non-invasive types of procedures. However, it’s best to contact the insurer and ask them for a list of minor surgeries that they’ll cover.

  • Judy |

    Hi, I am wanting to get top hospital cover for my son. He is 24 years old and had some mental health issues. I am wanting also wanting extras such as chiro, physio, dental etc.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Judy.
      Because I do not know the state your son lives in or his personal circumstances, I can’t provide you with a health insurance comparison. Please fill in the quote form above and a specialist will help you find the right type of cover suited to your son’s unique requirements or call 1300 786 328 for immediate assistance.

      As you’re commenting on the Bupa page, I assume you’re looking for Bupa Top Hospital and Extras cover. If that is the case, their Prime Plus options or Ultimate Health Cover for singles both options include a high level of hospital and extras cover. However, it might be a good idea to shop around and compare benefits and prices from leading health insurance companies in Australia before making a decision.

  • Shirley |

    My husband and I are now 60 years old. We have a Start & Save Hospital policy with Standard Extras cover which we have had for years.

    Is this cover still suitable for us or should we now look at different options?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hello Shirley.

      Wow, what a great question! I’m sure there are many other people over the age of 50 wondering the same thing.

      Because I’m not familiar with you and your husband’s specific requirements, for example, might you need joint replacement surgery in future or need hearing aids, etc. I can’t know what policy type and level of coverage would be best.

      We would love to help you review your current policy and determine whether it still meets your current and future requirements. Please call the specialists on 1300 786 328 for immediate assistance.

      Have a great day.

  • M.singh |

    My wife is in Australia as of last week on visitor visa 600. I want to best health insurance pack for her. For example, Ambulance cover, Prescription medicine and if possible in future pregnancy cover.

    How long could it take to get pregnancy cover? Please reply me asap. I will join tomorrow.

    Thank you.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hello Mr Singh

      There are many funds you can choose from for health insurance for 600 Visa. However, if you’d like a policy that includes pregnancy cover, you’ll generally need a more comprehensive plan. Please have a read of our article regarding health insurance for pregnancy.

      The waiting period for pregnancy cover is generally 12 months after your policy commences.

  • KC |

    My mother-in-law is currently in Australia and has applied for permanent residency. She has been granted a bridging visa which allows her to stay in Australia until they make a decision regarding her application. The Australian government is currently processing applications from 2016. Therefore, she will be in Australia for at least 2 years before a decision is made.

    Can I purchase health insurance for her while she is waiting for a decision on her permanent visa? If not, please let me know if there is another option. Thank you!

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi KC, thanks for reaching out.

      In the circumstances of a bridging visa, you can generally purchase an Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) policy available from many major health funds in Australia.

  • Md Rabiul Islam Khan |

    I’m going to Australia for 2-3 weeks visit to see my daughter in Melbourn. I’ve been advised to get a health insurance policy from the Department of Home Affairs. I’m 61 years old. I’m fine except having cardiac stenting some 8/9 years back. What type of health insurance should I go for? And what will be the cost?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Seeing as you’re only visiting for a couple of weeks, you might want to consider a hospital policy that provides cover should you need services or treatment inside a hospital, as well as emergency ambulance cover. However, it’s best to speak with a specialist regarding your specific requirements, they will also provide you with cost estimates. Kindly call 1300 795 560 for assistance.

  • Ian |

    My partner is 29yrs old and a Cambodian national on a 9-month multi-entry visa as is her 2 yrs old son.
    Both have passed the immigration medical tests obviously or they would have been rejected for a visa.
    we would like to inquire as to basic health coverage for the duration of their stay in Australia for
    GP visits, hospital basic cover.

    Neither have any medical issues currently nor do they have any historical existing health conditions that require treatment- you could say they are healthy citizens.

    Can you give an estimate of the monthly cost to be covered?
    I am a permanent Aus resident

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Ian,

      The cost of such a policy would depend on where in Australia you live and the company you want coverage from. You might want to start by filling in a health insurance quote form and a specialist will contact you to assist you in comparing quotes. You can find the form here or call 1300 795 560 for immediate assistance.

  • Karen de Villiers |

    Good day, my name is Karen de Villiers and I’m from South Africa, we are looking to go over to Australia. I’m not sure how the medical aids in Australia work, and would like an email where I can correspond with someone with regards to all the questions I have (which is quite a lot).

    Thank you, much appreciated.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Karen, thanks for reaching out.
      In Australia, it’s called private health insurance. Have a bit of a read here.
      Please call 1300 795 560 and a specialist will assist you with all your questions

  • Rachel |

    I am doing an assignment, and I need to find out the average expense (preferably per month) for health insurance for a single person.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Rachel.
      The average cost for a singles health insurance policy will depend on the health fund you choose, the policy type you want (Hospital, Extras or combined) and the level of cover you’re looking for.

      However, you might find value in our article about ‘How much health insurance costs‘.

      Good luck with your assignment!

  • PM |

    I am single and pay around $52 a month for my cover, is this the best option for me?

  • K62 |

    Male, my current age is 57. I have been with BUPA many years now since the Howard ‘forced private cover’ time. My policy is presently suspended whilst working overseas in a commonwealth country. The suspended cover is a Singles basic private package for dental, hospital, osteo cover. Suspended to Dec 2019. Possibly returning to Australia in October.

    Seeking suggestions for best health insurance options. I’m still single. Would be residing in the Western Victoria region.
    I have no complaints about my BUPA cover, it has been great and excellent value/service for money. But I’m about to be semi-retired, or maybe fully retire shortly, so seeking best financial options. thx.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hello. Thanks for reaching out.

      To provide you with a quote from some of Australia’s major health insurance brands a specialist would like to assist you. Please fill in a quote form or call 1300 795 560.

  • Khalfan |

    I am travelling to Australia for training for 2 years.
    I am accompanying my family (my wife and two children).
    Asking for health insurance with Bupa? Any recommendations?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Khalfan.

      We require a bit more information, for example, the visa type you’ll be applying for and where in Australia you’re going to live, as well as the level and type of health coverage you’re looking for. You might find our guide to visa health insurance helpful.

  • Elena Lawrence |

    We are planning to go overseas to partly retire. Will my Bupa membership still apply if we get sick and needs hospitalization? We are going to Manila Philippines. We are on Gold cover with Bupa.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Elena.

      Australian private health insurance generally does not cover expenses incurred overseas. However, if you’re planning to return to Australia you can apply to suspend your cover for up to 2 years. On the other hand, if you’re moving to Manila permanently, you might want to consider Bupa’s international health plans.

  • Sarah Herrity |

    Looking for best mental health cover ( psychology services especially ) for a 21 year old female based in Greenwood Perth
    Currently with AHM insurance

  • Jillian Westover |

    I have had Bupa cover for at least 50 years and also have Major Dental cover. I would like to know how much I will get back if I have a Pontic (643) performed. Please let me know asap as I go to the dentist today.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Jillian.

      You’ll need to contact Bupa directly for inquiries like these as it depends on your level and type of coverage. All the best.

  • Deepti Juneja |

    Hi Team,

    We are a company headquartered in Singapore with our entity in NSW, Australia.

    Looking forward for worker’s insurance policy detail along with the quotations for our team size of 4 people based out of Australia.

    Could you please help us out with the details, or let me know when we can connect.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Deepti.

      We do not compare workers compensation insurance. If you are perhaps referring to health insurance policies for those on an Australian work visa you might want to visit Bupa Global if you’re wanting a quote from Bupa. You can also review visa health insurance policies offered from comparison websites like Allianz Global Assistance, Iman Australia Health Plans or GetMyPolicy Australia.

      On the other hand, if you’d like quotes for Australian Citizens working in Australia for your company kindly call 1300 795 560 and an insurance specialist will assist you because each individual will have different requirements.

      I hope this helps.