Discovery in venture with US insurer

23 February 2011

US health insurer Humana has entered into a joint venture with South Africa’s Discovery, through which the American company will be able to offer its members access to the Discovery’s Vitality wellness and loyalty programme.

The deal will see the creation of a new entity, HumanaVitality, in which Discovery Holdings will hold at 25% stake. The new company will be capitalised by Humana, and will open its headquarters in Chicago this month.

“Discovery is very excited about the potential of our strategic partnership with Humana,” Discovery Holdings CEO Adrian Gore said in a statement this week. “It combines Humana’s brand credibility and scale with Vitality’s intellectual property and proven track record in consumer-engaged wellness programs.

“There is a growing trend toward emphasis on cost-management through wellness and prevention and this presents a compelling opportunity for HumanaVitality in the US.”

Consumer-focused strategy

HumanaVitality will provide Humana members with the tools and support necessary to help them make healthy choices and achieve lifelong well- being through access to the comprehensive Vitality wellness solution.

In addition, Humana will acquire a 25% stake in the business of The Vitality Group, Discovery’s US subsidiary, which will continue to offer the Vitality wellness solution to US employers who may have chosen other insurance and or wellness company solutions.

“This joint venture fits perfectly with Humana’s consumer-focused strategy that integrates health, wellness and lifelong well-being as our platform for future growth,” said Humana CEO Michael McCallister. “HumanaVitality will offer employers and individuals an integrated, comprehensive wellness solution.

“It unites Discovery’s wellness expertise and ability to integrate rewards with health, and Humana’s demonstrated innovation in consumer engagement that fosters positive behaviour change.”

The joint venture is subject to approval by the South African Reserve Bank.

Incentives to live healthy

According to Discovery, Vitality is a science-based wellness solution that encourages healthy behaviours that reduce long-term health care costs by rewarding members for improving their health.

Established more than 10 years ago, Discovery Vitality is the world’s largest incentive-based health-enhancement programme, serving more than 1.9-million people.

Vitality members experienced lower health care and chronic disease costs per patient, shorter stays in the hospital and fewer admissions than the general population, Discovery says.

The use of incentives is pivotal to changing behaviour. In 2010 alone, the program provided its members more than 500 000 flights, nearly 20 000 hotel stays and 3.5-million movie tickets for meeting lifestyle-modification goals.

SAinfo reporter

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