Is Bupa worth it?

Bupa is a leading private health insurance provider. But in the UK, where the NHS provides cost-effective healthcare for all, is Bupa worth it?

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Bupa is one of the leading private health insurance providers in the UK. But, in a country with one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world, which excels at making affordable healthcare accessible to all, is Bupa really worth it?

Let’s find out.


How big is private health insurance in the UK?

If you ask anyone to name things the UK should be proud of, the NHS is likely to be near the top of the list.

Despite this, approximately eight million people in the UK (13% of the population) currently have private health insurance.

Most access private health insurance as part of their employee benefits package. Others pay for it themselves, just as they do for car insurance or home insurance.

The biggest private health insurance providers in the UK include:

  • Bupa
  • Aviva
  • The Exeter
  • Saga

What is Bupa?

Bupa is the British United Provident Association, which was founded in 1947 when 17 British provident associates joined together to provide healthcare to the whole of the UK. Today, Bupa is a global healthcare business.

In the UK, the company provides a diverse range of healthcare products, including health insurance, health centres, care homes, travel insurance and dental care.

What kind of health insurance does Bupa offer?

Bupa offers two levels of private health insurance:

Comprehensive: This is the highest level of health insurance cover. It offers private diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for all eligible medical needs.

Treatment and care: This covers the cost of private treatment for those who are happy to be diagnosed by the NHS but would like to be treated privately.

How much does Bupa insurance cost?

Like all other private health insurance policies, the cost will depend on the type of cover you choose. It will also be influenced by your age and other personal factors including your weight, where you live, your previous medical conditions and whether you are a smoker.

Private health insurance premiums are typically around £1,500 per year, so that’s what you should probably budget for. You can also get a personal quote by visiting the Bupa website.


What are the pros and cons of Bupa insurance?

When working out whether Bupa is worth it, it’s important to consider the pros and cons.


  • Cancer care is included as standard, with access to breakthrough cancer drugs and treatments.
  • Live 24/7 GP consultations are available through the Babylon app.
  • Bupa covers more mental health conditions than any other leading UK insurer.
  • Health advice is available 24/7 through the ‘Anytime HealthLine’ helpline.


  • Bupa does not cover claims arising from pre-existing conditions 
  • There’s no cover for chronic conditions (e.g. heart disease and high blood pressure) or allergies.

So, is Bupa worth it?

There is no definitive answer to the question of whether Bupa is worth it. As the Money Advice Service points out, you essentially get free treatment on the NHS, so you only really need private medical insurance such as Bupa if you:

  • Prefer not to wait for NHS treatment
  • Prefer not to use the NHS and favour private hospitals instead
  • Want coverage for drugs and treatment you can’t get on the NHS, such as eligible breakthrough cancer drugs.

It’s worth noting that medical insurance paid by an employer, including Bupa, is considered to be a taxable benefit by HMRC. If you get private health insurance as part of your employee benefits package, you may pay more in tax.

It’s a tricky situation, but it boils down to whether the additional tax costs outweigh the potential benefits of private health insurance like BUPA.

Ultimately, it will be down to you to consider your personal circumstances and determine whether Bupa is worth it for you. 

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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