Discovery offers to partner with government on NHI

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Discovery CEO Adrian Gore says he would welcome the opportunity to partner with the government in scaling some of the insurer’s healthcare innovations across the public sector, at no financial benefit to itself.

“There isn’t enough collaboration between the public and private sector. Hopefully under the new leadership, I think we can do a lot more,” Gore is quoted in Business Day as saying.

South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI), still at an embryonic stage, seeks to improve the quality of healthcare available to poorer citizens who cannot afford private medical aid. But even in a developed market such as the UK, the National Health Service is facing considerable financial pressure, suggesting that the NHI will succeed only via partnerships between government, medical schemes and healthcare providers.

Discovery Health Medical Scheme is South Africa’s largest, boasting a 56% market share (2.78m lives). Administrator Discovery Health manages more than 3.4m lives.

Discovery’s intellectual property was “an incredible asset in terms of its ability to connect the dots” in the healthcare value chain and understand the drivers of cost and behaviour, Avior Capital Markets analyst Warwick Bam said in the report.

“A lot of our systems, such as HealthID and DrConnect, could be scaled across the public sector. Talking off the cuff, I would be supportive of us doing that for no return at all,” Gore said. HealthID is an electronic record of a patient’s medical history. DrConnect provides online access to medical information, facilitating interactions between patients and doctors.

The report says while the lack of trust between the public and private sector was a barrier, there was massive opportunity. “We could be funding much more stuff, not just in health insurance but in healthcare delivery and training of doctors,” said Gore.

Founded in 1992, Discovery is today a business with a market value of R118bn.

Business Day report

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