TymeBank and Dis-Chem each enter medical health insurance market

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Two new gamers, with broad distribution and inexpensive propositions, need to disrupt the normal medical health insurance market in South Africa. It will have conventional medical aids trying over their shoulders, notably the six largest – Discovery (DHMS), Bonitas, Momentum, Medihelp, Bestmed and Fedhealth – which collectively maintain 89% of the open medical scheme market.

These medical insurance coverage choices, not strictly akin to conventional medical help, are primarily focusing on the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who wouldn’t have entry to medical schemes – solely 8.9 million do.

However these decrease earnings earners who maybe are on medical help could now significantly think about their choices.

This may occasionally additionally hinder development for medical schemes, as these with out substantial wants would absolutely think about this primary cowl as a substitute of even a easy hospital plan.

Medical aids (schemes) are ruled and licensed by the Medical Schemes Act (1998). Schemes are not-for-profit entities, accessible to anybody (topic to their guidelines). They belong to their members and intention to run a surplus to cowl future necessities (to the advantage of their members). Well being or medical insurance coverage is an insurance coverage coverage, plain and easy.

In sensible phrases, the price of therapy will usually be paid on to the service supplier by a medical scheme (from the contributions of members). With medical health insurance, policyholders shall be paid out an quantity which they are going to then use to settle any health-related payments. This may occasionally or could not cowl all of their prices incurred.

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Medical help membership in SA has been stagnant for a while, with members really lowering by 2% in 2020.

Learn: Discovery not the one medical scheme shedding members

Dis-Chem says 11.8% of South Africans pay for out-of-pocket non-public healthcare, 2% are coated by medical insurance coverage and 72% entry the general public well being community.

Tauriq Keraan, TymeBank CEO says: “The dire actuality is just one in seven South Africans [has] entry to medical help, and most of the people can not afford non-public healthcare.”


The primary entry, introduced on Wednesday, is Dis-Chem Well being, which seeks to fill a spot in what the group phrases “inexpensive and high quality non-public healthcare in an surroundings the place extra persons are ready to pay for healthcare”. The entry into this adjoining marketplace for the pharmacy group follows final 12 months’s R195 million buy of 25% of Kaelo Holdings, which homes “a complementary portfolio of well being belongings, together with occupational well being clinics, the AskNelson psychological wellbeing platform, and the administration of benefit- wealthy hole and first medical health insurance merchandise”.

This was adopted a day later by TymeBank, which unveiled TymeHealth. In partnership with Nationwide HealthCare Group, it additionally goals to convey “high quality, inexpensive medical insurance coverage to shoppers”.

TymeHealth is an app-based providing that gives medical insurance coverage ranging from R139 per 30 days.

Dr Reinder Nauta, government chair of Nationwide HealthCare Group, which gives merchandise to the low-income and rising segments of the market, says TymeHealth has “unlocked appreciable potential in what has beforehand been unchartered territory”.

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To use for TymeHealth, one must be a TymeBank buyer (accounts don’t have any month-to-month payment). The selection of well being plan is made within the TymeBank app and, as soon as profitable, membership is activated. Members will have the ability to entry over 12,000 registered healthcare suppliers, together with GPs, pharmacies, dentists, optometrists, specialists and hospitals who’re a part of the Nationwide HealthCare Group supplier community.


Presently, there are three TymeHealth plans to select from:

  • MediClub Join (R139 per particular person per 30 days),
  • MediClub Premier (R299 per particular person per 30 days), and
  • MediClub Elite (R399 per particular person per 30 days).

Particulars of the plans can be found right here.

On the primary degree, medical recommendation is offered by certified nurses and GPs through WhatsApp. On the high finish, these are in particular person throughout the community. There are ready intervals for protection, a few of that are pretty prolonged.

Dis-Chem Well being’s present plans are:

  • The Core plan (R431 per 30 days), and
  • The Plus plan (R591 per 30 days).

There are extra cowl choices accessible for accident, medical emergency sickness and hole cowl.

‘Not a medical scheme’

In its coverage cowl paperwork, Dis-Chem clearly spells out: “This isn’t a medical scheme and the quilt shouldn’t be the identical as that of a medical scheme. This coverage shouldn’t be an alternative choice to medical scheme membership.”

On the finish of September, Kaelo had 381,000 lives beneath administration throughout hole, major medical health insurance and worker wellness cowl. At its interim outcomes, Dis-Chem mentioned the providing to the retail market would goal the “12.4 million employed [but] uninsured” folks within the nation.

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It says this providing “beneficially positions Dis-Chem within the provision of care in a quickly evolving major healthcare panorama and allows vertical integration within the healthcare worth chain”.

It sees its 430 in-store clinics throughout greater than 250 shops as “well-positioned as a bridge between the private and non-private healthcare sectors from each a value and accessibility perspective”. It provides that these clinics have skilled elevated demand for major healthcare companies, indicative of the position of the pharmacy on this area.


Dis-Chem Group CFO Rui Morais says: “The stagnation in medical help membership has been pushed by an more and more constrained shopper beneath rising non-public medical prices, effectively above inflation charges constantly over the previous 20 years. This has resulted in additional folks downgrading to cheaper medical help plans or canceling their medical cowl all collectively.

“There may be rising demand for medical insurance coverage insurance policies that supply a wealthy set of day-to-day healthcare advantages.”

There are murmurs out there that Normal Financial institution and Liberty could look to enter this area utilizing its Liberty Well being platform – it at the moment affords medical health insurance cowl in 26 markets throughout the continent (excluding SA).

It’s also possible that FNB, which has aggressively entered the life and short-term insurance coverage markets, will quickly compete on this section.

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