The policyholders of MBF, Australia's second largest health fund, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposed merger with Bupa Australia.
In December last year, the MBF Board announced its support for Bupa's proposal to combine the two businesses and create Australia's leading private health fund. Since then, approval for the merger has been granted by the MBF Council and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Bupa chief executive Val Gooding said: "The outcome of today's vote by MBF's policyholders is a strong endorsement of their support for the proposal to bring MBF and Bupa Australia together. Today marks the penultimate step in the formation of a national health insurer for Australia, which will deliver significant benefits for existing and new customers of both health funds as well as the wider Australian health sector. The merged group will have access to a wealth of health expertise, allowing it to take a leadership role and, importantly, help keep private health insurance more affordable for Australians."
The merger is now subject to final approval from the Australian Federal Court.
In Australia, Bupa trades as HBA and Mutual Community. Bupa first entered the Australian market in 2002 with the purchase of the businesses from AXA Asia Pacific. Currently, Bupa Australia covers more than a million Australians. With MBF the combined health funds will create a health insurer with a national footprint providing coverage for close to three million customers. Forty-four per cent of Australians have private health insurance.
MBF is Australia's largest, non-government private health insurer covering nearly 2 million people. MBF provides private health insurance throughout Australia and is the number one or number two private health insurer in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. In addition to its core private health insurance business, the MBF group of companies offer life and travel insurance.
International health insurance: News update: May 2008