Bupa no longer covers Homeopathy

So, a quick note to mark that the latest changes in T’s & C’s from Bupa simply state that they will no longer provide cover for homeopathic  treatment.

Aside from the NHS, Bupa is perhaps the most well known health care provider in the UK. Many people will receive extra cover through Bupa through work place schemes.  Bupa, formerly the British United Provident Association, is a private company, but with no shareholders and with profits reinvested back into the business. It has over ten million members in its schemes.

As NHS homeopathy is severely limited, access to homeopathy through this insurance scheme is one way people could afford to visit a private homeopathy GP. My understanding is that Bupa would not fund lay homeopathic treatment (Non-medically qualified homeopaths, such as represented by the Society of Homeopaths or the Alliance of Regsitered Homeopaths), but would if you were a member of the Faculty of Homeopaths – the body that represents those small number of doctors who believe in magic fairy pills.

So, a blow for homeopathy. One more, at such time when the very supply of much of their products is under pressure from the medicines regulator.

The reasons behind this decision are not yet clear. But it would be likely to assume that the huge negative publicity for homeopathy, its unethical antics and its lack of scientific rationale, must have been included in the decision.

This is a change from their previous stance. After calls from the BMA conference to stop funding homeopathy, Bupa said,

Dr Katrina Herren, Medical Director for Bupa Health and Wellbeing said: “Bupa believes in the use of evidence-based medicine. However we understand there are many commonly used treatments that aren’t evidence-based, including homeopathy. As long as these treatments aren’t used to replace effective treatments prescribed by a doctor, they will do the person taking them no harm and some people may find them helpful.

“Currently at Bupa, some of our policies cover complementary therapies, including homeopathy. However, in light of the doctors’ vote at the BMA conference, we will be reviewing our position on homeopathy.”

It would look as if indeed, they have agreed with the BMA.


16 Comments on Bupa no longer covers Homeopathy

  1. It will be interesting to see if other insurers follow suit – especially those that will fund “treatment” by lay homeopaths. It is interesting to note that there have also been changes to the payments to chiropractors – which they are very unhappy about.

    The reasons could be purely economic.

  2. h/t to @SkepticBarista for finding this on an ’employee benefits’ website:

    Bupa – changes announced for 2012

    Bupa have made us aware of a number of changes which are taking place both to their policies and also their hospital network in 2012. These changes are significant and although they only impact Bupa customers for now they are likely to have wider implications for the UK healthcare market.

    Changes to Bupa standard rules and benefits for Select
    (corporate and commercial / experience rated and age rated)

    The changes to Bupa’s standard rules and benefits for Select will be introduced to groups from their renewal date, beginning with groups renewing on 1st February 2012.

    Cover for Homeopathy is being withdrawn. This decision has been reached following the publication of a White paper which concluded that there was no clinical evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy.

  3. Dear MalleusHomeopathicum,

    “It is interesting to note that there have also been changes to the payments to chiropractors – which they are very unhappy about.”

    Do you have any links, references, explanations, further info?



  4. As a practicing orthopaedic surgeon I have been very sceptical about BUPA’s attempts to manage clinical care – but I am happy to endorse this new arrangement.

    ‘Twas I who proposed BMA policy that the NHS should not fund homeopathic remedies “unless and until NICE reports on their cost effectiveness.”

    I have also been pressing BUPA to provide different policies for those who wished cover for cams, and those who did not wish to avail themselves of those particular benefits. There would of course be an increased premium for additional cover.

    I am delighted BUPA has gone the whole hog and set homeopathy aside altogether.

    I am concerned BUPA will be dictating ever more as to how they want “their” patients treated. It is already trying to dictate which artificial joints are used.

    I do recognise BUPA needs to cap what it can pay out. I do not believe it should actively prevent patients consulting any consultant they wish, and having any treatment they wish, even if outside the “cap”. That cap should be transparent, but BUPA should take no active role in determing patient choice outside their schedules.

    (If BUPA has evidence doctors are not treating patients in the patients’ best interest, they should report those doctors to the GMC).

    A few years ago the CEO of BUPA was on £600,000 p.a.

  5. Thanks @Tetenterre,

    Well that looks interesting. In the light of that – for a health insurer who cares about costs, and of course they all will, AM/CAM/IM/DIM would seem a juicy target. Since there is no evidence of efficacy that a court will accept (thanks Simon Singh) (and a special, special, heartfelt thanks to those who brought the matter to court:-) the insurer can presumably impose arbitrary demands on the provider and they will just have to bow before them.

    Who would have thunk it? Maybe private medicine is wonderful?

    Hopefully the NHS will follow this enlightened lead and toss all the mumbo jumbo artists off the payroll.

    Loss of professional autonomy. (ROFL)

  6. By the way –

    I do feel very sorry for those who might have entered AM/CAM/IM as a career in good faith. Maybe you can sue? You could perhaps start with the school/minister for education/prince that failed to prepare you to distinguish fact from flim-flam in our increasingly globalised world.

    Perhaps your course/professional fees were mis-sold?

    I don’t feel sorry enough to consider that the public should be mislead too.

  7. I love “Wednesday 25th July 2012 Bupa Resignation Day!” (http://www.save-chiropractic-on-bupa.org/chiropractors.html) – reminds me of the threatened philosophers’ strike in the Hitch Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

    MAJIKTHISE: We’ll go on strike!
    VROOMFONDEL: That’s right. You’ll have a national philosopher’s strike on your hands.
    DEEP THOUGHT: Who will that inconvenience?
    MAJIKTHISE: Never you mind who it’ll inconvenience you box of black legging binary bits! It’ll hurt, buster! It’ll hurt!

    Cue riots in the streets at lack of availability of neck-busting quackery to middle-class people with BUPA cover. Very small riots indeed, I would think.

  8. Because it wasn’t entirely clear, I asked BUPA if the removal of homeopathy applied to all their policies. Just got confirmation:

    Bupa has removed Homeopathy from the Complementary benefits on all policies renewed on or after 01/01/12 and all new policies starting from that date.

  9. The Save Chiropractic on BUPAS website is quite illuminating about their attitudes.

    They seem very concerned that they will need to provide clinical outcome data from patients (heaven forbid anyone should check its actually beneficial!) and won’t have full control over what treatment is provided and how often.

    Bearing in mind the Chiropractic business plan – which is to get as many people through the door as often as possible and sod the outcomes – the Bupa published care pathways seem like a neccessary control measure to prevent abuse if they are going to allow Chiropractic at all.

    If something with such limited benefits as Chiropractic can be offered this compromise, it says a lot about how Homeopathy is viewed that it has been dropped altogether.

    It will be interesting to see how the Homeopaths spin this one.

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