Discovery estimates that funding COVID-19 vaccines could cost medical schemes R7bn

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Discovery Health anticipates that it will cost an upper limit of R7bn for medical schemes to fund COVID-19 vaccines for 7.1m of their own members as well as to subsidise an equal number of non-members in the public sector.

Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach is quoted in a Business Day interview as saying that the funding model under consideration would entail medical scheme members paying double the price for the vaccine with the scheme donating 50% of the cost to a funding vehicle, such as the Solidarity Fund. Medical scheme members would receive the vaccine as a prescribed minimum benefit.

There are 7.1m members of schemes above the age of 15. While there are many factors that will affect the cost of vaccines – including including the brand, the number of doses required and the storage requirements – the cost for about 14.2m people would range between R4bn and R7bn. This includes the distribution and logistics of the exercise.

A cost of R7bn would be less than 2% of gross annual medical scheme contributions, said Noach.

The report says the distribution of vaccines to medical scheme members will follow the same priority order as that in the public sector. This includes health workers first, followed by essential workers and workers in large institutions as well as the elderly and those with co-morbidities. Last in line will be healthy people below the age of 60.


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