Posted on Aug 13, 2010 by Sergio Ulloa
Bupa, the UK's largest private medical insurance provider, has announced its financial results for the first half of 2010. The report indicated that while the company's UK membership numbers remained flat, there was considerable growth in international markets contributing to an overall increase in income of £3.71 billion(US$ 5.7 billion) for Bupa.
Trading conditions in the UK, US and Spain have been particularly difficult since 2008, reflecting the fallout from the general downturn in business activity in these countries. However, trading in Australia and other non-European countries, and the USA, has helped Bupa generate an overall increase in revenue for the first six months of 2010. The UK health insurer reports a 10 per cent increase in revenue to £3.71 billion (US$ 5.7 billion) producing a 5% increase in surplus funds amounting to overall growth of £183.6 million (US$ 285 million) for the same period. As Bupa is a provident association all funds are reinvested into the company, consequently Bupa does not recognize "profit" per-se, but rather "surplus" revenue.
The 10% increase in revenue for Bupa was driven by organic growth of 4% and agreeable foreign exchange movements of 6%. Higher sales in Australia contributed to higher revenue, and a favorable exchange rate from the Australia Dollar to the Sterling was a strong factor for the company's success.
As a result of the tough economic conditions in the UK, Bupa experienced a 0.8% decline in membership numbers over the 6 month period. Revenue and profits from the UK market remained flat for the first half of 2010 following one-off restructuring costs, but significant loss was contained by lower claims payments and cost savings resulting from new a new administration system adopted in August 2009.
Trading in the USA private medical market was also adversely affected because of the economic downturn, high unemployment levels, and the reform of the healthcare system in the country. These factors all contributed to the slowdown in new business sales and renewals. Bupa continues to develop new products to meet the changing demands in the American private healthcare market, with new business opportunities arising following the passing of health reform legislation; industry watchers expect increased sales volume for USA private medical insurance as President Obama's reforms roll out through to 2014.
In international markets, Bupa's surplus increased from £51.3 million (US$79.8 million) to £88.7 million (US$138 million) over the six month period, until 30th
of June 2010. Bupa International still remains the largest provider of international private medical insurance, with a global 2% increase in policyholders over the reporting period; primarily due to Bupa Arabia, and Bupa Australia experiencing increasing membership numbers.
Ray King, Chief Executive of Bupa commented on the future of the Australian health insurance market by saying: 'In our Australian insurance business, the integration programme is almost complete and we look forward to the launch of a single product suite later this year which should further enhance our competitive position."
In other markets, Bupa Latin America reported an increase in profits compared to the same period last year, explained by steady membership growth and lower claims being made. Bupa Hong Kong revenue increased modestly, and Max Bupa, the joint India venture launched in March 2010, has 6 retail offices in major cities across the country; this is planned to increase to 9 outlets by the end of 2010.
The future for Bupa in the UK and US remains unclear due to the stringent economic conditions and the impact on demand for private health insurance products. However with both governments implementing major reviews of healthcare provision it may give the UK medical provider opportunities to accelerate business in these markets. Chief Executive of Bupa, Ray King said "The UK and US government started to articulate their plans for reform of their healthcare systems and we believe that this should offer new opportunities for businesses in the future."
The future outlook for Bupa internationally looks positive; consolidating their market presence in the international health insurance market. However, the markets in Europe and North America are still subject to difficult economic conditions.
Insurance Company Mentioned:
Bupa was established more than 60 years ago in the UK and is now has ten million customers in over 190 countries, and over 52,000 employees around the world. Bupa is a leading international healthcare provider, offering personal and corporate health insurance, workplace health services and health assessments. As a provident association Bupa has no shareholders, because of this it uses its profits to invest in healthcare and medical facilities around the world. Bupa has operations around the world, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, New Zealand and the US, as well as Hong Kong, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, India, China and across Latin America.