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Discovery Health

Company Overview

Healthcare: Discovery Health Medical Scheme

Total client base: 2.4 million lives covered

Rating: AA+ credit rating from Global Credit Rating

Discovery Holdings is an international financial services company that operates in South Africa, the United Kingdom, China and the United States. The company listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange in 1999 and its head office is in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Discovery was established in South Africa in 1992, initially operating as a specialist risk manager in the private health insurance market. It has since expanded into a fully integrated financial services organisation spanning the following key markets.

Consumer-engaged health assurance

Discovery operates in health assurance markets in South Africa through its subsidiary, Discovery Health; and in the United Kingdom through its joint venture with the Prudential plc, PruHealth. Discovery owns 75% of this venture. The company offers health insurance that makes use of savings accounts and a wellness programme to empower consumers to manage their health and control their healthcare spending.

In December 2009, Discovery entered into an agreement to acquire a 24.99% stake in Ping An Health Insurance Co. of China Ltd.

Consumer-engaged life assurance

In the life-assurance sector, Discovery operates in South Africa through Discovery Life and in the United Kingdom through a joint venture with Prudential plc, PruProtect. Discovery Life's risk-only life assurance products engage consumers and encourage them to actively manage their risks to reduce their premiums.

Financial services

Discovery Invest is Discovery's financial services provider that specialises in offering investors unique guarantees and cost savings.

Health and lifestyle benefits

Vitality is a scientific wellness programme that encourages people to be healthier and rewards them for positive health behaviour. The programme forms the foundation to all Discovery's products and enables consumers to integrate their Discovery products to achieve more value.

Through Vitality, Discovery's wellness programme, the company offers consumers the DiscoveryCard, a Visa credit-card. This card offering offers consumers additional benefits, rewards wellness and facilitates integration across Discovery's product offerings.

Discovery's core purpose and business values

Discovery's core purpose is to make people healthier and to protect and enhance their lives. Our core purpose drives our business strategy of offering consumers products that they need and want and enable them to engage in their health. We look to grow our business organically by structurally changing the way industries work for the benefit of the consumer.

Our approach to our business and customers is driven by strong values.

HIV/AIDS Profile

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of HIV infection in the world. Today we know that if detected and treated early, HIV becomes a chronic disease that can be managed effectively, ensuring that HIV-positive people continue to lead good quality and healthy lifestyles. Through our approach to HIV and AIDS we aim to provide a broad spectrum of services to manage HIV and AIDS - from the individual to the community and large corporate companies.

Discovery's approach to HIV and AIDS manifests in the following key programmes:

  • Disease management programme for HIV positive members on the Discovery Health Medical Scheme
  • Corporate Wellness programme for all employers with 35 and more employees. This includes Discovery HIVCare
  • The Discovery Health Sunday Times Right to Know campaign
  • Discovery's Corporate Social Investment programme and collaboration with government and non-government organisations

Discovery Health Medical Scheme disease management programme

The HIVCare Programme is a disease management programme that is tailored to meet the needs of Discovery Health members who have been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, whether the patient needs antiretroviral treatment or not. The aim of the programme is to delay the onset of AIDS as far as possible and to keep patients healthy through appropriate lifestyle interventions. With guidance and support of the best HIV experts in the industry, Discovery works in partnership with members and their doctors to ensure that enrolled members have access to the most clinically sound and cost-effective treatment plans available.

Through the programme, members receive counseling, lifestyle management and cover for antiretroviral medication where necessary. Our dedicated and experienced HIV case managers, supported by our full-time HIV specialist doctor, will assist members with all aspects of their HIV treatment and lifestyle modification. They will offer additional support services and access to reliable information on HIV and AIDS, and what steps members and their families can take to fight and manage the disease.

For this year, our data for members who first enrol on the programme and needing ARTs have decreased from 80% to 50% - an indication that people are enrolling on the programme much earlier and are also testing and screening earlier, thereby ensuring that they receive the appropriate care and treatment at the most optimal stage.

Members who are not enrolled on the HIVCare Programme, have access to a network of GPs through the Discovery GP Network, where they can have HIV test and receive confidential counselling.

Corporate Wellness solutions for corporate companies

Discovery's corporate wellness programme offers employers a suite of health and wellness tools. This includes Wellness Days at the workplace, which includes testing of individuals' BMI, glucose and cholesterol. Members complete a Health Risk Assessment and receive feedback in an individual report. Employers have access to comprehensive tracking of their health status through integrated reporting and coordinated education and awareness campaigns. The programme includes the Discovery HIVCare Programme that focuses on the following elements:

  • HIV Policy development helps employers align their policy with best practice
  • HIV Education and Awareness tools that include training for employees and awareness programmes.
  • Voluntary, counseling and testing where members give their permission to be enrolled on the disease management programme should they test positive
  • Discovery Health Medical Scheme HIVCare Management Programme
  • Support for internal communication campaigns through email teasers and posters to raise awareness of the Wellness Day

To date, we have hosted 315 Voluntary Counselling and Testing events, and have tested 15 000 employees for HIV. This is an increase of close to 30% from 2009's attendance.

Discovery Health Sunday Times Right to Know campaign

During 2008, Discovery Health ran a campaign with the Sunday Times to encourage South Africans to get tested for HIV and know and understand their results. South Africans were able to get tested at any accredited pharmacy and enter their details into a monthly draw where they stood the chance to win R100 000 a month for one year. Through this campaign, 55 000 South Africans tested for HIV and received their results.

Corporate social investment

Discovery's involvement with the community focuses on a long-term commitment to help build resources that will secure the future wellbeing of the broader community. While Discovery is a financial services institution that spans life assurance, investment and local and international healthcare markets, it occupies a central position in the South African healthcare environment. We see healthcare as a national asset and as an area where we are able to make a significant and sustainable contribution to ensure its sustainability.

We believe private and public healthcare are interdependent. They must work together to ensure a strong and equitable healthcare system. Our investments in public and community healthcare therefore not only aim to provide immediate relief to the overburdened public sector, but also aim to build capacity and strengthen the healthcare system in South Africa.

Our three key areas of involvement:

  • Building capacity for healthcare delivery through investments in infrastructure projects or in public healthcare resources, including human resources, equipment and other investments
  • Enabling or supplementing primary healthcare delivery, especially in the area of HIV and AIDS care, counseling and testing and home-based care.
  • Investing in the wellbeing of the youth through healthcare and social development projects aimed at children and adolescents.

Case study: Hillcrest Aids Centre

The Discovery Fund currently supports 29 community projects. One of the projects supported by the Fund is the Hillcrest Aids Centre. This project is based in KwaZulu Natal and focuses on providing healthcare services related to HIV and AIDS.

Its projects include counselling, testing and screening for treatment access, home-based care and respite care, life skills and HIV and AIDS education, horticulture, income generation, a feeding scheme, funeral fund and school fee project.  The objectives of the care programme is to provide counselling, testing for HIV and CD4 levels and to facilitate the treatment of community members.

Hillcrest also provides in-patient unit and home-based care facilities to those in need of palliative care and an ongoing network system to secure cover of services for people infected by HIV and AIDS. The current project impact and reach is 3 500 direct beneficiaries and 20 000 indirect beneficiaries, with an anticipated project in the next few years around 5 250 direct beneficiaries and 63 000 indirect beneficiaries.

Discovery's grant is towards the care programme that consists of a respite unit, home-based care and counselling, thereby helping to provide a sustainable solution to enormous need in South Africa for home-based care and palliative treatment.  Since 2007, the Discovery Fund has made the following grants:

2007: R160 000

2009: R200 000

2010: R225 000

2011: R250 000