Discovery to launch new international business headed by Broomberg

Discovery Health – the country's largest administrator of medical schemes – is establishing an international business to cash in on the rising demand for health insurance globally. This comes hot on the heels of the group’s short-term insurance unit, Discovery Insure, announcing that it is expanding its model to Amsterdam last week.

On Monday Discovery said a new international unit, Vitality Health International, will be headed by current CEO of Discovery Health, Jonathan Broomberg, from January 1, 2020.

Discovery has replicated its behaviourial insurance model in many developed countries, including the UK, US and Canada through Vitality. Vitality is now in 19 countries around the world, with over 11 million members.

In the UK, Discovery has standalone Vitality brands, namely VitalityLife, VitalityHealth, and VitalityInvest. VitalityHealth commands about 10.5% of UK’s private medical insurance market share, the company’s latest integrated report shows. However, in other countries, Discovery has so far implemented Vitality in partnership with local insurers, such as Ping An Health in China, John Hancock in the US and Asia’s largest listed insurer, the AIA Group.

So, the rationale behind the establishment of Vitality Health International is to "coordinate and intensify focus and resource allocation to Discovery’s global emerging health insurance initiatives", said the company in a statement. It said Chinese Ping An Health had grown considerably, while other markets also presented more growth opportunities.

Discovery owns a 25% equity stake in Ping An Health, which has been investing heavily in expanding its distribution channels in the past three years, opening new branches and modernising its digital channels, to capture most of China’s growing private health insurance market share.

"We believe the opportunities are significant, given the rapid growth of health insurance in most markets around the world and Discovery’s unique health insurance expertise, assets, and shared-value model; combined with our involvement in the preeminent health insurance businesses in South Africa, China and the UK," explained Discovery CEO Adrian Gore.

Discovery said Broomberg would head the new unit from his Johannesburg office. He will also act as global head of health insurance for the entire Discovery Group.

Current Discovery Health deputy CEO, Dr Ryan Noach, will succeed Broomberg as the CEO of the local health operations, Discovery Health.