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Discovery Launches iPMI with Local Zambian Insurer

In this iPMI plans and products article, international private medical insurance market analyst and report author Ian Youngman, looks at news out of Zambia, that Discovery has launched iPMI with a local insurer partnership.

  • Madison Life Insurance Zambia Limited (MLife), in partnership with Vitality Health International, has launched new health insurances.
  • Lusaka based MLife pioneered the introduction of health insurance in Zambia.
  • Discovery’s IPMI insurer Vitality Health International offers IPMI in several African countries.
  • Vitality Health International's health insurance offering is a unique product with enhancements customised for leading businesses in Zambia to provide to their employees.
  • Enhancements include the Vitality Malaria Benefit and funeral cover benefits.
  • The Vitality Malaria benefit was launched for all countries where it offers IPMI earlier this year.
  • Malaria has a devastating impact on populations and African countries sadly carry a hefty case load of malaria incidence. 95% of total malaria cases recorded worldwide are diagnosed and treated across the African continent, with 80% of deaths caused by malaria in Africa being children under the age of five years’ old.
  • The Vitality Malaria Benefit includes a rapid diagnostic test for employers to make available for their employees.
  • Over-the-counter medication is available where a positive result is picked up.
  • The Vitality Health International health insurance offering is insurance that focuses on well-being.
  • It aims to positively impact people's health outcomes while improving and protecting their lives.
  • This is in line with MLife's support of the Government's initiatives for a healthy and productive Zambia.
  • MLife is Vitality Health International's in-country medical insurance partner, using its established systems to collect premiums and manage debtors.
  • Employers are rewarded with cash back of up to 10% for encouraging their employees to get healthy and the Vitality Health Fund, which can be unlocked when members complete their Vitality Health Review, extends the employees' outpatient benefits by up to $100, based on completion of Vitality health assessments and positive engagement with the Vitality programme.
  • Employees can earn weekly rewards where vouchers can be redeemed for achieving their goals, or employees can choose to donate towards a life-changing vaccine.
  • By completing their weekly goals (including personalised, mental, fitness and lifestyle goals), members close their virtual fuel bar and successfully earn rewards.
  • Vitality Health International offers a range of benefit plans including in-country, Africa Roaming and Worldwide (excluding USA) cover.
  • While the health insurance offering caters for employers looking for in-country benefit plans to cover staff who stay permanently in Zambia and don't travel for business, it is also particularly attractive to new-generation expatriates (Zambians returning home after studying abroad) and employees who travel and want to be covered both inside and outside the borders of Zambia.
  • Vitality Health International offers five health insurance options.
  • Vitality offers Vitality Standby-U cover- a holistic return to wellness following the loss of a loved one. The benefit provides financial support in the form of a lump-sum payment and a data and voice bundle in partnership with MTN. Emotional and physical health support is offered through Healthy Company, Discovery's digitally enabled employee assistance programme and wellness solution.
  • Madison Life Insurance Company Zambia Limited (MLife) is a specialist life insurance company that underwrites health insurance through Madison Health Management Services.
  • Partnering with Vitality Health International is a strategic move as MLife continues to expand, grow, and contribute to the development of health insurance in Zambia, covering both individual and corporate clients.
  • Vitality Health International is owned by South African insurer Discovery.
  • Since its launch in January 2022, Vitality Health International has been gaining momentum in bringing health insurance that rewards healthy living to employer groups in the rest of Africa.
  • Another product launch for 2024 across all countries is the Start Plan for entry-level staff.
  • All plans are available in both United States Dollars and in local African currencies.
  • In addition to Zambia, the health insurer offers IPMI in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Ghana.
  • Discovery subsidiary Medical Services Organisation International has a local office in Zambia to offer integrated healthcare risk management and third-party administration services.
  • Medical Services Organisation International in Zambia already offers IPMI- Pan-African Health Insurance by Vitality Health International.

Analysis

  • Discovery has been clever in launching IPMI and then a range of other plans- all in partnership with local insurers.
  • It offers Africa specific benefits with many options.
  • The Vitality Health International model is relevant for the African market.
  • Healthcare in Africa is ready for disruption.
  • The health insurance industry in Africa is modelled on traditional approaches to healthcare cover.
  • With its young, millennial population the industry is ready for innovation.
  • Zambia has a young population with the dominant working-class generation being millennials.
  • The steady growth in Zambia's middle class (49% of the population) is an indicator of increasing affordability for health insurance and a growing demand for quality healthcare.
  • For millennials wellness is a daily, active pursuit as they are exercising more, eating smarter, and smoking less than previous generations.
  • They are using apps to track training data and online information to find the healthiest foods.
  • Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are emerging as the main cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • This shift is caused by increased urbanisation, lack of physical activity, poor levels of disease screening and late-stage disease diagnosis.
  • Employers are looking for more holistic screening and well-being solutions.
  • Africa's young population is adopting digital technology and connection at a rapid rate.
  • Interest in health and wellness, and specifically wearable tech that tracks health activity, is high.
  • Vitality Health International partners with social benefit organisation, Goodbye Malaria, to accelerate the fight against malaria, a disease that is still taking an unrelenting toll on human health in Africa.
  • Vitality launched in Tanzania earlier this year and other country launches are planned.
  • So, Discovery marries local partnerships with Africa specific cover and a tech focus.
  • Other IPMI insurers will need to compete on distribution, local cover, tech and perhaps price.

About the Author

Ian Youngman is an independent writer and researcher specialising in insurance. He writes regularly for a variety of magazines, newsletters, and on-line services. He publishes a range of market reports, and undertakes research for companies. To read his latest report, International Health Insurance 2023, please click here, or visit the REPORTS section of iPMI Global.

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