Press release -
Supporting Solidarity Fund and other initiatives during COVID-19; Discovery executives heed President’s call to donate part of their salaries
15 April 2020
This is an extraordinary period that Discovery recognises will have a wide-ranging impact on many individuals and businesses, particularly due to financial constraints arising from containment and subsequent business interruption. Discovery’s response to COVID-19 is driven by the company’s simple but powerful core purpose, to make people healthier, which in the context of this pandemic means supporting South Africans to stay out of harm’s way and to provide the necessary financial protection they need when affected by COVID-19. To this end, the Group announces a range of financial and other tailored interventions to support clients, doctors and South African citizens.
In alignment with the example set by the President and his Executive last week, the Discovery Board Chair, Chief Executive and the Discovery Board in its entirety (including both Executive and Non-Executive Directors) will donate a third of their salaries and fees over the next three months to efforts to fight the pandemic. This commitment has been reflected by all of the CEOs within the CEO Initiative, which Discovery is a member of. This funding will be allocated to the Solidarity Fund and other COVID-19 related causes.
“We have a long road ahead of us as a country, with considerable work to do; and this requires leadership and accountability from every sphere of society – responding to the President’s plea to come together as a nation and give this our very best effort. We are proud to play our part in supporting the remarkable national effort to preserve lives and livelihoods, given what is at stake,” says Discovery Group Chief Executive Adrian Gore.
A range of tailored interventions available to clients, doctors and South African citizens
Just as the first case was recorded in South Africa, during early March, Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) launched the DHMS WHO Global Outbreak Benefit which was immediately accessible to members on all DHMS plans. This benefit provides funding in full from the Scheme’s risk pool to cover the tests and treatment for confirmed COVID-19 cases. All policyholders of Discovery’s employee-based health insurance product, Discovery Primary Care, have access to full funding for testing and treatment costs for confirmed COVID-19 cases. Additionally, any waiting periods for Discovery Gap Cover policy holders are being waived, to fund valid COVID-19 claims.
In line with President Ramaphosa’s call to support small businesses, DHMS has set aside R2.3 billion from its reserves in order to support contribution holidays for small and medium businessesaffected by the COVID‑19 outbreak. This enables qualifying employers with between 10 and 200 employees to defer up to two months of medical scheme contributions for their employees, whilst retaining this important cover during this time. These contributions will be repaid over a period of up to 12 months after the deferment period. No interest will be charged on the contributions deferred, and the concession is effective immediately.
Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach explains, “It is pleasing that at a difficult time like this, the Scheme is able to respond to the needs of employers negatively affected by COVID-19. This could support the medical scheme contributions of more than 600 000 Discovery Health Medical Scheme members, benefitting thousands of businesses and families.”
Understanding the challenging operating and financial environment in which all Discovery clients may find themselves during this time, the Group has further introduced a range of options to support vulnerable groups by offering flexibility in premium payments across its insurance products to ensure they can continue their cover at this critical time. Clients who are facing financial constraints due to the containment period and business interruption should contact their financial advisers or Discovery directly to discuss their options before making any financial decisions.
Providing support to improve the safety of healthcare professionals who are working tirelessly to protect and care for patients during the pandemic is an absolute priority. Accordingly, the Discovery Fund will be donating R2 million to Gift of the Givers to purchase and distribute Personal Protective Equipment for carers in vulnerable communities across the country. Discovery Healthy Company, an employee wellness and employee assistance product, has availed online emotional, legal and financial wellbeing assistance for all doctors, free of charge. All healthcare professionals who are members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme receive full funding for influenza vaccinations, which is critically important for front-line healthcare heroes.
For any South African who receives a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and is in need of a safe space to isolate, Discovery has also partnered with the Capital Hotel Group to make rooms available for use. This is designed to relieve some of the pressure on the healthcare system and is clinically important to protect against the spread of COVID-19 through family members living in the same home. The Capital Empire is offering this service at a discount of 55% of their normal rates.DHMS members who choose to access this facility following a COVID-19 diagnosis, will receive an additional R400 off the daily rate during the period of isolation (the reduced rate is specifically for DHMS members who have COVID-19, or are awaiting their test results, and have been advised that in-hospital care is not necessary). Discovery Health is also providing 24-hour nursing supervision to oversee the clinical care and recovery of patients, as well as transport to nearby healthcare facilities for anyone needing referral for more acute medical care.
In recognising the importance of ubiquitous access to high quality medical care and advice, Discovery Health has also partnered with Vodacom, to deliver free online doctor consultations to all South Africans. The virtual healthcare platform supports the broader healthcare system to give all South Africans free access to reliable information, risk screening through a digital tool and, when necessary, free medical consultations with doctors, who are remunerated for these consultations by Vodacom and Discovery Health.
For more information about Discovery’s response to the pandemic and other COVID-19 resources visit the Discovery COVID-19 Information hub.
Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, exported to over 19 countries and reaching over 11 million members. Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, with a market cap of $7 billion.
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