Bupa – founded as the British United Provident Association

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Originally operating as the British United Provident Association, Bupa is primarily known for being the top private healthcare provider in the UK. Although for much of its life the company has been run almost in direct opposition to the National Health Service (NHS), recent moves towards privatising medical care in Britain have seen the two organisations working closer together for a number of services.

While the bulk of their annual £9 billion revenues comes from medical care and health insurance (in which market they are considered to be the UK’s dominant force), Bupa have been keen to diversify into other markets in recent years – and now have a portfolio that includes care home, travel insurance and the provision of occupational health for businesses.

Bupa’s head offices are located in London, England – however, the company are now believed to have around 14 million customers worldwide, spread across the 190 countries in which they operate. The company have focussed much of their recent marketing strategy around the developing world, having launched regional brands in India, Thailand and China during the last few years.

Critics have suggested that Bupa’s inclusion into the structure of some aspects of the NHS is creating a de-facto two tier health system that is increasingly aimed towards profit margins over medical expertise, yet the company themselves argue that the fact that they have no shareholders means that they are able to pour any excess revenue into the development of new treatments.