Bupa trims health plans

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BUPA, the largest medical insurer, with 3 million members, is offering a 30 per cent discount on medical policies to people who buy either its new disability income policy or new critical illness cover.

It is also launching a low- cost medical scheme that is cheaper than all the existing plans. Local HospitalCare will cut 25 per cent from the cost of the LocalCare scheme, which restricts patients to a single local hospital by excluding outpatient consultations.

Bupa is setting up a telephone service that will give potential policy-holders instant information about the cost of the four schemes - wide cover, cover restricted to one hospital, and the cheaper versions of the two schemes that exclude out- patient consultations.

Policyholders may also opt for an excess of pounds 100, pounds 150, pounds 200, pounds 250 or pounds 500 with each policy to reduce the cost.

Disability Income Benefit will pay up to half gross salary during a policy-holder's working life and also into retirement. It is available to the employed and self-employed, and to homemakers.

Critical illness cover provides a lump sum on diagnosis of one of a list of conditions or serious operations. There is also a recovery cash option, which pays a cash lump sum in the event of having to undergo one of a list of operations. The more serious the operation, the larger the cash sum, so that it should meet the costs of recuperation. The sum ranges from pounds 400 to pounds 2,000. This cover does not qualify policy-holders for the 30 per cent discount on medical cover.

But all three new policies entitle patients to a free three- yearly check-up with their GPs or a discount towards a Bupa health screening.

Until recently, Bupa had a link with a life insurer under which it sold Friends Provident income replacement cover, while Friends Provident sold Bupa medical insurance.