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Discovery Health announces its 2008 contributions and benefits

18 September 2007 Discovery Health

* 9.8% contribution increase for 2008 across all plans
* Largest HIV management programme roll-out to corporate South Africa
* Vitality personalised to make wellness easier to navigate and achieve, and introduces focus on kids' wellness
* Addition of international BA flights as a Vitality and DiscoveryCard benefit

Discovery Health, South Africa's largest medical scheme administrator, today announced the 2008 changes for the Discovery Health Medical Scheme. It also reported further progress in working with health care professionals in eliminating gaps in cover for its members.

Building on last year's commitment to create a GP network that ensures Discovery members dont have gaps in their cover for GP consultation fees, Discovery said 73% of GPs in South Africa are now on the network. Currently over 3 200 GPs country-wide participate in the direct payment arrangement.

This creates certainty that patient's bills will be paid directly by Discovery Health.

9.8% contribution increase across all Discovery Health Plans

The Discovery Health Medical Scheme confirmed its annual contribution increase for 2008 would be 9.8% across all plans.

"We are pleased to have announced another single digit increase in line with salary inflation and within the Council for Medical Schemes target of CPIX + 3%", said Jacky Mathekga, the principal officer of the scheme.

Mathekga also reported the Discovery Health Medical Scheme has amassed substantial reserves and is on track to meet its targets, as agreed with the Council for Medical Schemes, of 23% by 31 December 2007 and 25% by 31 December 2008.

The Discovery Health Medical Scheme continues to have the highest rating for its claims paying ability an AA rating from independent rating agency, Global Credit Ratings in the South African open medical scheme market.

More specialists have signed up for the Premier Rate payment arrangement

Since the launch of the Premier Rate at the beginning of this year, it has grown to attract 3 600 specialists which equates to 71% of South Africa's practising specialists who treat Discovery Health members. Members enjoy maximum cover and no gaps in their cover when they use specialists who agree to participate in this voluntary direct payment arrangement.

CEO of Discovery Health, Neville Koopowitz commented, "We have engaged extensively with specialists around the country around their reimbursement and are pleased with our progress to date."

"Our objective is to reduce gaps in members cover for these bills and create certainty around reimbursements. Another key issue is to ensure that participating specialists earn more an important goal given the shortage of specialists in the country."

Largest HIV management programme roll out to corporate South Africa

There is also good news for corporates. Discovery Health announced that its corporate wellness programme, Vitality WellPoint, including its world-class corporate HIV management programme, Discovery HIVCare both launched last year will be restructured to ensure easier access to companies with 100 or more employees on Discovery Health from October 2007.

According to Koopowitz, the programme could touch as many as a million people working for South African corporates, making it the country largest corporate HIV management programme.

"In fact, we estimate it could be one of the world's largest corporate HIV management programmes," he said.

Employers will have access to wellness days, education and awareness as well as valuable rewards for employee engagement.

Wellness days include preventive screening tests, high-risk assessments and tools to encourage employee participation. Employees receive feedback on their health status, risk factors and on how they can change their lifestyle to improve their health.

Companies can earn points, which will decide their Corporate Health Status, based on their employees participation in the Wellness days and the companys health risk profile. Companies with a good Corporate Health Status earn added Vitality benefits for employees.

"When it comes to managing the potential impact of HIV and AIDS in the workplace, we believe that providing voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) are critical in fighting the pandemic. People who find out they are HIV-positive can enrol on our confidential HIV management programme, ensuring they receive correct treatment and manage their condition. Of course, this makes sense for the medical scheme too, as early detection and management of the condition ultimately lowers medical expenses," commented Koopowitz.

Bespoke Vitality health advice, international flights with BA and enhanced rewards

Enhancements have also been made to the Vitality programme to add to Discovery's ability to help people lead healthier lives. According to Discovery Vitalitys CEO, Alan Pollard, Discovery Healths statistics on hospital admission rates already show that Vitality members actively engaged in the wellness programme are about half of the hospital admission rates for non-Vitality members. Pollard estimates that just a 30% increase in the level of members' engagement with the Vitality programme could save the Discovery Health Medical Scheme over R200 million per year.

Vitality members will soon be able to go online, take a health test and get personalised feedback on their own most pressing health issues. Members who take action to address their specific issues based on the assessment feedback will get extra Vitality points. The result is a far more tailored, relevant Vitality programme that equips people to deal effectively with their individual health risks.

And Vitality is making good health even more rewarding with the addition of unprecedented discounts on international flights through British Airways. Vitality members will next year have access to discounts as high as 60% depending on their Vitality status and DiscoveryCard spend off international BA flights to 15 destinations in the northern hemisphere. Members can benefit from these discounts up to twice a year.

Vitality has also added another Vitality status for members who manage their health well on an ongoing basis. Further discounts and deeper rewards will be applicable to Vitality members who have been Gold status for more than three years. They will be upgraded to Diamond status and will receive improved Vitality rewards and DiscoveryCard discounts. For example, they could get up to 10% discount when using their cards at Pick n Pay and 20% discount at other retail partners of Discovery.

Children also set to score on Vitality

Vitality will also focus on making children healthier in the year ahead. Children younger than 16 whose parents belong to Vitality will receive free entrance to the movies for a year, if their parents take them for specific health assessments during the year, like wellness check-ups and dental checks. Vitality will be giving support tools to parents as well as teachers to encourage healthy behaviour

Pollard further commented: "Lack of activity in children and poor eating habits are predicted to lead to a high increase in health claims as they grow up. The aim of the programme is to get children motivated to make healthy choices now and avoid health problems later in life."

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