Luk Vanderstede, Director General Mexico of Bupa Global Latin America, spoke to Mexico Health Review on the benefits of preventive care.
Q: Bupa reported global revenue of £14 billion in 2015-2016. What part did Latin America play in this?
A: This year, Bupa is celebrating 70 years and Bupa Global, its insurance division, is one of the main players in this success. Bupa Global has 22 million people insured globally and 86,000 employees and Bupa Global Latin America and Bupa Global Mexico enjoyed strong growth from 2015 to 2016. The main drivers of this growth are our presence and branding.
Q: What are the main challenges of operating under the Mexican healthcare system’s regulations?
A: We regard regulations positively and we understand that the goal is to have cohesion between what an insurance company says and what it does. Regulations verify that we provide only those services we can comply with and that the rules of the game are clear. Fortunately, the interaction between insurance companies and regulatory agencies is positive.
Q: Premiums are paid in pesos but the insured amount and deductibles are in dollars. How does currency volatility impact Bupa’s bottom line?
A: Currency devaluation impacts companies like Bupa that are active on the international stage. However, we have implemented financial tools to mitigate that impact, which includes hedging our assets. Our joint venture with Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest insurance company in the US, has been one of our biggest sales drivers in the last few years and our affiliates have coverage in 97 percent of facilities in the US. Anybody who has a Bupa Global Mexico card also gets one for Blue Cross Blue Shield, a benefit that has also helped improve our customer-retention rate.
Q: What cost-effective solutions is Bupa Global providing its clients to promote preventive care?
A: Two years ago, the AMIS finally authorized the inclusion of preventive benefits in an insurance product. At Bupa Global, when clients acquire an insurance policy they are entitled to a free check-up with the annual renewal. We have digital tools and a health app tailored specifically for Bupa customers and we also have online distribution channels through which potential customers can receive advice about their policy purchase. Finally, we contribute to prevention awareness by supporting events, like 5k and 10k races that we believe are promoting a longer, healthier and happier life.
Q: Who are Bupa Global’s customers and what added value do they receive?
A: The people that buy Bupa Global have a clear idea of the importance of protecting their health. Those who come to us are aware that we do cover certain risks that other companies do not, such as extreme sports. In the case of corporate clients, the companies that choose to work with us recognize the benefits of Bupa Global coverage for employees who frequently travel, or the companies just want to provide an international premium medical insurance as a retention strategy.
Q: What are Bupa Global’s main distribution channels?
A: We distribute through three different channels: agents, direct sales and through partnerships with companies. In Mexico, we are associated with American Express and with Actinver. The main distribution channel in Mexico is agent sales because people here prefer to deal face to face.
Q: What products can Bupa Global offer that other insurance companies cannot?
A: We launched our Bupa Global Health plan in 2015 and it is very straightforward. There are three variations of the product: select, premier and elite. All have almost the same offering but the difference is the insurance sum, which means that benefits will increase as you move up. For all three products, the insurance sum is renewable, so when customers renew their policy they continue to pay the same amount. Unlike other companies, we do not have a closed network of institutions or doctors; we are an open network. However, we know which hospitals our customers frequent and we have a department to verify that the service conditions are appropriate.