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Bupa announces telehealth is here to stay

Telehealth psychologist
Photo: Bupa announces telehealth is here to stay
The move to virtual healthcare, driven by COVID-19, is here to stay with health insurer Bupa announcing that its customers will continue to be covered for a range of popular telehealth services under applicable Extras health insurance products.

The continued availability of telehealth coverage on such Extras services, previously scheduled to end on 30 September, means customers will be able to receive care through video conferencing or telephone in addition to face-to-face services after the COVID-19 interruptions. 

Since the original initiative was announced on 25 March, Bupa has processed more than 10,000 telehealth Extras claims, demonstrating telehealth’s popularity. 

Emily Amos, Managing Director of Bupa Health Insurance, said customers are embracing telehealth as part of ‘the new kind of normal’ when it comes to healthcare.
“At first, we simply wanted to make sure our customers’ healthcare continued uninterrupted, despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the new arrangements were so popular, we quickly realised telehealth was here to stay.   

“COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges to the health system, however this is a real example of providers and insurers thinking differently to deliver and fund important health services,” said Ms Amos.

Claims data has also revealed younger people are leading the charge on the adoption of telehealth for Extras services such as psychology and physiotherapy, with people under 40 accounting for 57 per cent of all claims for telehealth services since 25 March. 

“This data gives us a real insight as to how to keep health insurance relevant for young Australians who have grown up with technology as part of everything from banking to relationships.

“It shows that by responding to the needs of younger customers, changing the way healthcare is delivered and letting people claim for those services, we can deliver real value and promote positive health outcomes,” said Ms Amos.

While physiotherapy is the most common telehealth claim across all age groups, the claims data has revealed that psychology is the most popular amongst customers aged between 20-49.

“Telehealth makes mental health services more accessible for Australians, almost half of whom will experience a mental health disorder at some time in their life1. 

“It may be that some people feel more comfortable receiving that type of care from their home, as opposed to going to a clinic,” Ms Amos said.

Benefits for telehealth are available on Extras for psychology, physiotherapy, speech therapy, counselling, dietetics, occupational therapy, midwifery and exercise physiology.

To provide customers with added convenience during the telehealth claims process, Bupa is also offering on-the-spot claiming through its partnership with HICAPS for physiotherapy, psychology, exercise physiology, speech pathology, occupational therapy and dietetics.

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