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Company limited by guarantee
Industry Healthcare
Founded 1947
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people
Stuart Fletcher, CEO
Products health insurance, care homes, health at work services, health assessments
Revenue Increase £9.1 billion GBP (2013)
Increase £638.5 million GBP (2013)
Number of employees
70,000 (2013)
Website www.bupa.com

Bupa (pronounced /buːpə/) is an international healthcare group, serving over 22 million customers in over 190 countries. It is a private healthcare company, as opposed to the UK's National Health Service (NHS), which is a tax-funded healthcare system.


Bupa (originally, the British United Provident Association) was established in 1947 when 17 British provident associations joined together to provide healthcare for the general public. The original services offered by Bupa included private medical insurance, and eventually expanded to include privately run Bupa hospitals. Bupa had an initial registration of 38,000 when founded, but currently has over 14 million customers worldwide,[1] and is the leading private health insurance provider in the UK.

It was founded before the advent of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1947 as a provident organisation. Initially, it was purely a UK health insurance provider, offering policies to individuals, companies and other organisations.

Over the years, it has diversified away from its core health insurance business and is now an international healthcare company with services that include travel insurance, health insurance, care homes, health assessments, occupational health services and hospitals. The firm is a private company limited by guarantee; it has no shareholders, and any profits (after tax) are reinvested in the business.[2] Since the Health and Social Care Act 2012 came into force in April 2013 Bupa has won the single highest-value contract – a £235m deal to provide musculoskeletal services in West Sussex jointly with Central Surrey Health.[3]


The company has its head office in central London, with main UK contact centres in Staines and Salford Quays. There are also offices in Brighton (Bupa International), Leeds (Bupa Care Services), and Harlow (Bupa Home Healthcare) in the UK, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia (Bupa Australia and Bupa Aged Care Australia), New Delhi (Max Bupa), Madrid (Sanitas), Boston (Health Dialog), Beijing (Bupa China), Hong Kong (Bupa Asia), Jeddah (Bupa Arabia), Bangkok (Bupa Thailand), and Miami (Bupa Latin America).

Bupa Ireland was set up in 1996 and eventually had 300 employees in Fermoy, Co Cork and 475,000 members – a 22% share of the Irish market. In 2006 it announced its intention to close in response to the Irish Government's policy of risk equalisation.[4] In 2007 the business was bought by the Quinn Group and traded as Quinn Healthcare.[5] Since 2012 it has been trading as Laya Healthcare.[6]

Bupa (Sanitas) offices in Madrid (Spain).

The firm also owns several healthcare companies overseas including Spain's largest healthcare company, Sanitas, and acquired ihi Danmark and Amedex (Miami, US) in September 2005. In November 2006, it acquired Clinovia, now known as Bupa Home Healthcare, in a move that gave Bupa new opportunities in out of hospital care. In December 2007, it purchased DCA Agedcare Group in Australia and New Zealand, making it a leading player in these markets. Also in December 2007, it announced the purchase of Health Dialog,[7] a provider of chronic condition management and "shared decision making" services.

In 2007, the company announced plans to sell its UK hospitals to Spire Healthcare.[8]

During 2008, the firm acquired the London-based Cromwell Hospital flagship hospital to provide healthcare to its members and other private patients including medical tourists from outside the UK. Approval was given for the merger between Bupa's Australian arm (which, prior to the merger, comprised HBA and Mutual Community) and insurance group MBF.[9] The merger created Australia's second largest private health insurance group. On 1 December 2008, Clinovia's name was changed to Bupa Home Healthcare.[10]

The firm has entered the Indian health insurance market through a joint venture with the local conglomerate, Max India, called Max Bupa Health Insurance Limited.[11]

In October 2010 the firm sold Bupa Health Assurance to Resolution Limited, and it has been rebranded as part of Friends Life.[12]

In the end of 2012 Bupa acquired largest private healthcare network in PolandLux Med for €400m from private equity fund Mid Europa Partners.[13]

In February 2015 Bupa acquired a controlling share in Chilean private healthcare network Cruz Blanca, which has a 21% share in the local market. [14]

According to Stuart Fletcher in 2013 'there was a 6 per cent decline in the number of individuals covered’ by private health insurance, ‘and the people who are more likely to claim are the least likely to drop the insurance, so the risk pool is deteriorating.’ Bupa has protected its profits by reducing payments to consultants. This provoked the British Medical Association to complain to the Competition Commission, which published a report into the private healthcare sector in 2013, probing insurers’ power over consultants’ fees. It decided that by trying to keep prices down and promote competition, Bupa was doing "exactly what customers would expect". But it did warn that companies like Bupa need to ensure they communicate better with policyholders about what their premiums entitle them to.[15]


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