• Healthcare giant Bupa left a pensioner disappointed when it shut her cash plan
  • These deals let consumers reclaim medical costs such as dentistry and eyecare
  • Many Bupa customers have been left to search for a new insurer by themselves

A pensioner has been left frustrated after Bupa closed her cash plan with little warning – after paying in loyally for almost 40 years.

Cash plans are a form of low-cost insurance that let holders claim back the cost of healthcare expenses such as eyecare, dentistry and physiotherapy, often more.

People with these plans must pay the cost themselves first, then can claim the cost back from their insurer, up to a set annual limit.

Around 3.5 million people in the UK have a cash plan, with roughly 3 million having one through work.

Canned: Bupa contacted our reader in October to say the cash plan would be axed at the end of the year

Canned: Bupa contacted our reader in October to say the cash plan would be axed at the end of the year

One such workplace cash plan is the Mercia Health Benefit Plan run by healthcare giant Bupa.

This plan was taken out by Gill Williams, now 78, almost four decades ago when she began working for Coventry City Council.

But Williams – not her real name – was surprised to get a Bupa letter out of the blue on 16 October telling her the plan she had paid into for so long was going to close on 31 December.

Bupa said it had reviewed the plan and had taken the decision to close it for her and all other members.

‘It feels that having loyally paid in all these years counts for nothing and being given only two-and-a-half months notice of closure is unfair,’ Williams said.

Williams pays £18.42 a month for her plan, and only occasionally claimed for low-level expenses such as physiotherapy and new glasses.

The plan will pay £175 a year for dental work, for example, at the highest coverage level of four, and £115 for opticial claims, as well as 60 per cent of physiotherapy claims worth up to £700 a year.

Has your health cash plan been closed? Email editor@thisismoney.co.uk 

‘I’d like to continue with it and just keep paying it,’ Williams said. ‘I don’t know how many years I’ve got left. I just assumed that they would have an alternative plan they could move me on to.’

But Bupa has made no attempt to swap Williams to another plan, and instead just told her to shop around for a new one, even when contacted by This is Money over the issue.

The problem Williams faces shopping around is that she is 78 and most health care cash plans are closed to new customers past the age of either 65 or 70.

Those that do offer cash plans to pensioners tend to cut how much the deals will pay out for heathcare costs.

Bupa head of cash plan Marissa Ward said: ‘We regularly review our products and services to make sure they continue to meet our customers’ changing needs and provide value for money.

‘Following our latest review, we found that there’s been a low demand for the Mercia Health Benefit Cash Plan in recent years and continuing to offer it would likely lead to high price increases, which would be unfair to our customers.

‘We’re writing to the small number of customers affected two months before their renewal date to let them know and give them time to find an alternative cash plan policy by visiting other providers and price comparison websites, or through a broker.’

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