Dis-Chem Pharmacies has launched Dis-Chem Health, a health insurance offering with premiums starting at R431 per month for the Core plan and increasing to R591 per month for the Plus plan with additional cover options available for accident and medical emergency illness cover.
Child dependents start at R302 per month per child, while accident cover starts at R185 per month for adults and R100 per month for children.
This follows last year’s acquisition of 25% of Kaelo Holdings’ equity which houses a complementary portfolio of health assets, including occupational health clinics, the AskNelson psychological wellbeing platform, and the administration of benefit-rich gap and primary health insurance products.
“Primary healthcare is fundamental to a healthcare system that improves health outcomes to as broad a base of the population as possible. With primary healthcare gaining widespread recognition as being the ‘front door’ of the healthcare system, pharmacies are positioned as a fundamental entry point of the primary healthcare ecosystem,” said Rui Morais, chief financial officer at Dis-Chem.
Dis-Chem said it has identified a need to provide universal access to affordable and quality private primary healthcare in an environment where more people are prepared to pay for healthcare, which aligns with its intention and commitment to play a leading role to extend universal access to a wider and under-served segment of the population.
“This initiative combines Dis-Chem’s consumer-facing brand strength, store network and loyalty base assets with Kaelo’s best in class health insurance assets, giving the capability to maximise policy acquisition and retention while making a meaningful difference in the lives of a large segment of our population who have historically not had access to traditional private medical coverage,” said Morais.
“Kaelo has extensive experience and capability in providing affordable, easily accessible care that enables high-quality health outcomes for policyholders. Our partnership with Dis-Chem is deeply meaningful in that it aligns a unique set of assets that rapidly increase access to care for a market that is currently under-served,” said John Jutzen, Kaelo chief executive officer.
From a group perspective, this new offering beneficially positions Dis-Chem in the provision of care in a rapidly evolving primary healthcare landscape and enables vertical integration in the healthcare value chain to share in the resulting benefits from economies of scale and diversified revenue streams, the group said.
It added that demand for affordable medical cover continues to grow in an environment impacted by continued financial pressure on consumers, this against a backdrop of fewer people being able to afford traditional medical aid cover, and the strained quality of, and access to, public health services.
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of South Africans access the public health network, 15.2% have access to medical aid, and 11.8% pay for out-of-pocket private healthcare. Only 2% of South Africans are covered by medical insurance.
“The stagnation in medical aid membership has been driven by an increasingly constrained consumer under rising private medical costs, well above inflation rates consistently over the past two decades. This has resulted in more people downgrading to cheaper medical aid plans or cancelling their medical cover altogether,” said Morais.
The company said its 430 in-store clinics across its network of over 250 stores across the country are well-positioned as a bridge between the public and private healthcare sectors from both a cost and accessibility perspective. These clinics have experienced an increased demand for primary healthcare services, indicative of the role of pharmacy in this space.
Medical insurance offers members non-life insurance cover for the cost of day-to-day healthcare needs and certain accident and medical emergency illness events. Whilst it is not a medical scheme, does not offer the same benefits as a medical scheme and is not a substitute for a medical scheme, medical insurance is a good option for those who cannot afford medical aid membership, it said.