Bupa Osteopaths

Bupa Changes - Patient Information

What’s the Problem?



In April this year, Bupa announced that they are changing the arrangements for osteopaths who treat members of Bupa. The conditions in the new contract are so onerous, thatan increasing number of osteopaths are withdrawing from offering consultations under Bupa cover.

Even if you are currently covered for treatment by your own osteopath under Bupa, there is no guarantee that this will continue and the number of osteopaths accepting Bupa insurance in your area may well be severely reduced.

Bupa’s new terms & conditions will mean that, in future, you may not be able to choose the osteopath you wish to see.


Current Petition Count

Osteopaths signed petition:
Osteopaths opted out of the new Bupa Osteopathy Network:
Patients signed petition:

So why is this happening?

There are several areas that these changes affect…


Bupa is offering to pay below the present fee scales for many osteopaths, especially in the London & the Southeast where the costs of running a practice are higher. They are also preventing patients from making up the difference between their present osteopath’s fees & what Bupa is prepared to pay – i.e. they are not allowing patients to “top up” the fees.


The new requirements will mean a massive increase in the amount of time that your osteopath has to spend in filling in forms for Bupa about your claim, your diagnosis, the treatment that you receive & your response to that treatment. This will cut down the time your osteopath has to do what they do best – treating patients such as yourself.


Osteopaths treat patients as individuals. Although your osteopath may diagnose that you have a particular problem, the treatment they provide to each patient is as unique as you are. We believe that your osteopath, having taken a case history and performed an examination, is in the best position to decide the treatment that you need. Without knowing you or ever having seen you as a patient, Bupa is trying to dictate what treatment your osteopath is allowed to give you.

No osteopath wants to stop providing treatment under your cover, but many feel that these changes make it impossible for them to give you the care you need.

What can you do to help?

If either you, or a member of your family, have benefited from osteopathic treatment or you feel that you may need our help in the future, there are three ways you can help…

1. Submit your name and email address to our petition


2. Spread the word to other Bupa members by drawing their attention to this problem. Talk about it. Like, tweet or share this page using the options at the top of the page. Send the address of this website to them via email and let people know what you think using the comments at the bottom.

3. Complain about this directly to Bupa. If they get sufficient negative feedback from their members, they may well withdraw these changes. If you are a member of a corporate scheme, we would also encourage you to contact the person who deals with health insurance matters at your place of work.

4. Have a look at, and maybe join in with, the comments on other websites, such as the excellent Private Patients Forum. www.privatepatientsforum.org

5. Submit a comment to the Competition Commission about how Bupa’s behaviour is limiting patient choice. See the “Latest News” page on how to do this.



You can complain to Bupa…

1. By Letter

The best way is in WRITING to

Dr Natalie-Jane MacDonald
Medical Director
BUPA Health & Wellbeing UK
Willow House
TW18 3DZ

2. Online

You can download a sample letter, that you can adapt, from

Or by e-mail to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or via their website

3. By Phone

or on the phone
0845 609 0111

Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 6pm

If you are a member of a corporate scheme, we would encourage you to contact the person who deals with health insurance matters at your place of work.


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  • Comment Link Gareth Butler Monday, 10 September 2012 22:23 posted by Gareth Butler

    Re: "It’s what we’ve got insurance FOR!"

    One of my colleagues recently sent us the link for this anonymous comment on the excellent Private Patients Forum website.


    As it expresses the feelings of many of our patients who are Bupa members, I thought it would be relevant to post it here…

    "I am a Bupa member & I see my osteopath under my insurance. He told me a couple of weeks ago that he is going to resign from Bupa & I won’t be able to claim for any further treatment costs after August this year. He doesn’t want to resign but, from what he’s told me, Bupa have changed the contract he works under and it sounds horrendous. Cutting fees, much more admin &, worst of all, they will tell him what treatment to give his patients – I’m not surprised that he’s had to resign.

    I’m certainly not going to go to a different osteopath, I want to stay with the one I know & trust and thankfully we can just about afford it. On the other hand, why should we? It’s what we’ve got insurance FOR!

    He also said that even if he had stayed in Bupa, they wouldn’t allow patients to top up the difference between the fees they are prepared to pay him & what he charges. How dare Bupa tell me how to spend my money!

    I saw him today & he told me that there’s a new website with information for patients about the situation – I found it very helpful. Thought other Bupa members might like to have a look…


    I’m certainly going to send a stiff letter to Bupa about this myself & my husband is going to talk to the person in charge of the scheme at his work (Bupa cover came with his job, thankfully).

    How can Bupa do this? Why are they doing it, it can only be to save money, but why can’t we pay the difference?"

    Bupa have replied to this comment on the website and I will leave you to judge for yourself whether it really answers this person’s concerns…

  • Comment Link Gareth Butler Wednesday, 15 August 2012 18:05 posted by Gareth Butler

    Re: John Collison’s comment

    You are quite right that a large proportion of patients who see osteopaths pay for their treatment out of their own pockets. Research commissioned by the General Osteopathic Council (our regulatory body) a couple of years ago found that, in the average UK practice, 75% of patients are self-funding. Also, less than 7% of consultations were paid for by private medical insurance, Bupa payments only forming part of that small figure. Obviously some practices see a greater proportion of insured patients than others, but the vast majority of osteopaths do not rely on the income from insured patients for their living.

    Although the fees issue is more of a problem in London & the Southeast, where the cost of living & also running a practice are much higher, it is the other issues of extra administration and, particularly, professional autonomy that are the biggest problem for osteopaths across the country.

    I just wanted to clarify that ALL patients who go to osteopaths should receive high quality treatment, regardless of how long the osteopath has been in practice or how much they charge. Although new graduates have to be 100% competent before they can qualify, Bupa do not recognise practitioners with less than 5 years postgraduate experience. That having been said, patients should be able to choose which osteopath they wish to see, especially if they have built up a bond of trust in a particular practitioner’s abilities.

    In principle, it is not the osteopaths who have a problem with “topping up” but Bupa. They have said that this is a common source of complaint from their members. Surely, complaints could be avoided if Bupa members were informed (in advance of treatment) of any shortfall in funding. The situation would then be transparent and they could then choose to top up, or go to a practitioner whose fees are within what Bupa is prepared to pay.

    Whatever Bupa’s intent, the effect of the new Network will be to limit patient choice. After a car accident, insurers cannot force anyone to use one of their “approved repairers” to fix their car – shouldn’t this also apply to more personal bodywork repairs?!


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