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Five changes to Discovery Vitality in 2018

The good news: points – earned and tiers – stay the same.
Discovery's Vitality programme has been so successful that it has been exported to 14 countries. Picture: Shutterstock

Discovery will soon announce a number of tweaks and additions to its Vitality programme in South Africa. Most of these changes are not yet public, but Moneyweb has in its possession a copy of the summary document being distributed to brokers.

In the local context, new research by the insurer (Vitality Diamond Zones, 2016) shows that the average life expectancy of Vitality members is 81 years, versus 67 for those insured and 63 for the broader South African population. “Among highly engaged Vitality members, males currently aged 60 are 14 times more likely to live to be 100, and females 10 times more likely when compared with people who are not Vitality members”.

Importantly, there are no major points changes to Vitality in 2018. For a single member, 10 000 points are required to reach bronze, 30 000 for silver and 45 000 for gold (family tiers remain the same). Diamond status is reached after attaining gold for three years in a row. The points structure for the Vitality Health Check (nearly 300 000 of these are completed each year) and those for further checks, such as HIV, are also the same.

Fitness points awarded for the year, as well as for the weekly Active Rewards goals, are identical to those in place currently.

1.Active Rewards: new surprise rewards for streaks

Weekly rewards for hitting your goal on Active Rewards remain in place, and along with existing partners Kauai, Vida e Caffé, Mugg and Bean, and Ster Kinekor, members will also be able to choose car wash discounts (from Stop Wash) or airtime. Discovery notes that Vitality Active members are exercising 25% more, with over 1.7 million weekly rewards claimed. Team Rewards, where you could double up rewards for hitting goals along with two friends, fall away from October 28 2016. This was announced by Discovery in communication to Vitality members this week (and in the latest mobile app update).

However, Team Rewards are being replaced by Surprise Rewards as of this week which you will earn for hitting goals three weeks in a row. These include double up core rewards from existing partners, but are extended to bonus rewards (such as grocery vouchers (from Woolworths and Pick n Pay), free rides (Uber) and meals (Nando’s). There are also retail rewards from partners such as Cape Union Mart and Yuppiechef, and a chance to win grand prizes and dream holidays from travel partners.

2. Bike Booster and Device Booster

These two benefits have been introduced alongside the popular Shoe Booster which was launched for 2017. Shoe Booster rules stay the same, with up to 25% cashback up front on a pair of running shoes purchased at Sportsmans Warehouse or Totalsports with the HealthyGear benefit. Over 12 months, members can earn cashback on the remaining 75%, if they achieve their weekly fitness goals. In other words, David buys a R2 000 pair of running shoes and activates Shoe Booster. He gets R500 cashback instantly because he has completed his Vitality Age and Vitality Fitness Assessment and activated HealthyGear (this is separate from Shoe Booster). In month one, he achieves his Active Rewards fitness goal every week. This means he gets R125 back after month one. He can effectively earn the R2 000 purchase price back for hitting all four goals a month. The activation fee increases from R300 to R350.

Device Booster is structured in the same way as Shoe Booster (up to 25% cashback with ability to ‘earn’ an additional 50% of the purchase price back over 24 months). This allows those outside of the Apple ecosystem to effectively subsidise their fitness trackers (in a similar way to Vitality’s Apple Watch benefit).

Bike Booster is capped at 25% of the first R20 000 of the retail price of a bike purchased at Cycle Lab (in other words, R5 000) and the ‘earn back’ runs over 36 months. The maximum ‘upside’ is therefore R139 a month.

Activation fees for Device Booster and Bike Booster are R350 and R350, respectively.

3. Vitality Purple

This extends the Vitality model into the traditional ‘private client’-type space. With the launch of its bank scheduled for the first half of 2018, this move is not surprising. Vitality Purple is for those members on the Discovery Health Executive Plan or Discovery Purple Life Plan, and they need to upgrade. Purple members have personal consultants and are able to get customised training programmes and discounts on things like its Executive Wellness Assessment, golf clubs and spas. Monthly fees are R399 (or R459 for the main member plus one other or R499 for the main member plus two or more).

4. Vitality Move and Vitality Active

Vitality Move is free for all members of the Discovery Health Medical Scheme. In other words, they have not joined Vitality (and are not paying the monthly contribution). The only free benefit on this programme is a chance of winning their HealthyFood shopping spend at Pick n Pay and winning back all shopping at Pick n Pay if they complete a Vitality Health Check. For R35 per month, they can get up to R100 off their monthly gym fees, up to R100 in Pick n Pay shopping rewards and up to R100 off movie tickets each month. There are qualifying criteria though.

Vitality Active is for younger members (between the ages of 18 and 30) and costs R40 per month. These members participate in the Vitality’s weekly Active Rewards programme and can earn rewards for achieving fitness and/or drive goals.

It is clear that the ‘normal’ Vitality programme is reaching a ceiling in terms of those members who are signed up, and both of these are ways of Discovery extending the methodology to drive engagement – and fitness/activity – among its broader base in South Africa.

5. Pricing

Monthly contributions increase by 9% to 11%, depending on the number of members in a family. A single member will cost R239 per month from January (versus R219 currently), member plus one will be R289 (from R265) and member plus two or more will increase to R329 (from R296).

Its world-leading, successful Vitality programme has been exported globally to partner insurers in 14 countries (16, if you count its home markets SA and UK) and its publicly-stated ambition is to make 10 million people healthier by 2018.

* Hilton Tarrant works at immedia. He can still be contacted at hilton@moneyweb.co.za.

* He holds shares in Discovery, acquired in September 2013. And, he is a Vitality Active Rewards member.

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I recently considered joining Vitality. By all accounts, I should be the person they want – I train 4-6 times a week for 1-2 hours at a time, and do a park run every week. I’m fairly fit and active. My weight is within the BMI and I actually prefer healthy food.

The first pain was when they phoned me back with more info, when I asked for communication to be via email. They really should learn that not all of us like sales pitches over the phone.

I don’t make use of a gym on the network, my complex has its own gym. I also have a minimalist approach to banking, so I only have one debit card. As a rule, I prefer weekend breaks nearby as oppose to holidays in another province. I also don’t go the movies, as I find the younger crowd a bit loud and undisciplined, spoiling my movie experience. Which means, the only reason I’m keen on joining is for the device and healthy food.

We soon figured out the the healthy food would be beneficial, but when asking about the device I was told that I would get a personalised plan of achievements. No problem with that, but I wanted to see this before signing up. No can do, I was told. So it’s a bit like taking out a personal loan without knowing the interest rate. I am just not keen on signing up for so few benefits if I don’t know what I need to do for those benefits.

I fear this is where Discovery loses out with me every time. I understand that I am not the typical user, but at the very least I should be able to do my Vitality age and get my Vitality Active plan as an enticement to sign up?

With regards to the Apple Watch, Vitality can’t peovide you with a plan before the time as your goals is based on the weekly targets you reach. What i can tell you, is the highest possible expectation is that you train 3 times per week for 30 minutes at 70% of Maximum Heart Rate in other words 900 points per week. Based on your training program, this would be easily reachable. You will start off with 50 points per week.

Surely they can provide an example of what the plan will look like based on my Vitality Age? And what I would typically need to do to remain on top of my plan, if I achieve all my goals every week? I’m never keen on open ended commitments, I really need to understand what I’m getting myself into.

I have been on vitality for years and have maintain my diamond status for 4 years in a row. However this year is proving to be very difficult to achieve 150k points. Im still 32k short. If I don’t achieve this I will be leaving discovery. They have made it too difficult for gym goes. I go to VA gym every day but only get 100 points. Its become frustrating… And if I leave I will take my credit card and medical aid else where. NOT HAPPY WITH DISCOVERY VITALITY.John

It is a very well structured deal. You pay an activation fee of R 600.00 for the watch deal, fromnyour Discovery credit card with a minimum credit limit of R 15 000.00

If you reach all your goals in a month, you won’t pay a cent for the watch in that specific month.

If you only reach your goals 3/4 weeks for the month, Discovery pays 50% of the watch’s premium in that specific month.

If you reach 2/4 weeks, Discovery pays 25% of the watch premium.

If you reach 0/4 or 1/4 goals, you will pay the full premium of the watch in that month.

@ferdiefermaak

It may be very structured, but firstly, I do not have a Discovery credit card, nor do I want one. I am keen to achieve my goals, but that is the question I have: what are those goals? Surely with my Vitality goals they can tell me, should I achieve my goal every week, what my Activity plan will look like? I am not disputing the structure of the plan, I’m merely asking for more detail.

Not sure how the watch works but if its anything like the weekly rewards then that is not the maximum it can be.

My weekly rewards require upwards of 700 points so even if I got to gym 7 times a week I won’t get it. The only way is to track heartrate and do long distance high intensity cardio.

Hi Ferdie, those rules changed during the middle of last year.
Your heart needs to be pumping at 80%+ of maximum heart rate to get the 300 points.

If your workout comes in at 69% of max heart rate, you get only 100 points, and you would need to need a 9 day week to achieve your 900 points.

But it is understandable as lots of members are not aware of the rule changes.

UZ, I logged in just to reply to you.
It sounds like you want to know what you are getting yourself into and a have simple, healthy lifestyle.

Stay as far away from Discovery as you can. I made the choice. As a professional my options were to use PPS (who are still after me) and Discovery.

You base your decision on rules required for this year, but the rules change every year. It has evolved to something I cannot cope with anymore.

Very interesting replies to this thread. And I agree with most of them. I am also Diamond status. But the flippen hoops you have to jump through to get R86 back in healthy food, you may as well buy Panados with it for the headache it has caused.

Discovery is a premium insurance and if you don’t jump through all the hoops to extract every cent then other no-nonsense schemes are better.

I’ve been waiting for the Discovery bank to be launched. If it’s not mind blowing, I will be taking my insurance to Old Mutual and my “vitality” to Momentum. The premiums are so low, your cash back is basically automatic.

The email communication is a pain. They do not want to commit in writing. But it gets a whole lot worse and more scary. Whatever your Discovery broker tells you doesn’t need to be honoured by Discovery. And I was forced to go through a broker.

Example. Your broker claims that if you fall off your bike while exercising (because to make your points you will be having breakfast and brushing your teeth on your bike) and then after 20 years you fall of your bike and claim. Discovery could then tell you it’s not a valid claim because because…you bought a chocolate at Pnp. This one example of it.

If it were not for changing rules, I would suggest you try it. Perhaps you could try it for a year if you do not have any other insurance.

Good luck in whatever you decide!

Excellent summary and update info Hilton. Unfortunately there are still many uninformed detractors of the Vitality program who usually criticize it from positions of ignorance (lack of information). Discovery provides lots of info about this outstanding facility online. I suggest folks go there and read it before posting negative comments. I’ve been an active member since 2001/1 and since I’ve started really applying myself to being active, my overall health and fitness levels have improved beyond what my expectations were. As a matter of interest, you don’t need to go to gym to achieve the required points for various status levels. BTW – I achieved GOLD status in my second year as a member and was awarded DIAMOND status immediately they launched this level and I’ve achieved my DIAMOND status points for the following year by the Easter Weekend for the past 3 years. It’s not that difficult, but you need to apply yourself and your family. Commitment folks – believe me, you’ll feel much better for it. 🙂

I agree. But as per my comment above, if it’s the device you’re after, rather than the levels, in other words Vitality Active Awards, information is precious little.

+Hilton

I’m not sold on the second paragraph or the idea that Discovery really cares about the personal well being of its subscribers. Its about money and fudged information.

There are folk who by discipline adhere to a healthy lifestyle of nourishing food and physical activity in moderation and live a very long time. This is common in places like Costa Rica and Japan where average ages are soaring.

Then there are folk who also adhere to the same rules as mentioned but with a bit more “fervent” and flat-line at the average of 70 – 75.

If one needs a nanny like Discovery to charge you what you should be common sense in a healthy lifestyle approach…then your’e an idiot to be corralled and pay stupid amounts of money.

It’s not hard to see that if you legislate that health insurers cannot vary the premiums they offer on the basis of health status, they’ll find another way to achieve the same end. This is what Vitality is. A work-around.

What’s irritating is that it’s taken as given that Discovery knows/cares about the causative agents of healthier lives. Yet they only need correlation. If people who buy 2-ply toilet paper happen to get fewer heart bypass surgeries, they could offer points for putting 2-ply in your cart.

Ironically, the weaker the causal connection, the more careful they have to be that you won’t change your behaviour in response to their reward. Hence up-front fees and complex, constantly changing rules. One day it’s toilet paper, the next it’s reusable coffee mugs…

The actuaries must have quite an interesting job measuring and balancing the fees / points / effort / incentives. But the last thing they need to worry about is whether they’re actually making people healthier. That’s left to the marketing department.

The shift to emphasise exercise where heart rate is tracked by an Apple Watch or any similar fitness device is not going to reverse (Discovery describes these as ‘evidence-based’ activities). There are far too many members of its medical aid scheme (and others, such as Momentum’s) who simply swipe for gym access and immediately leave, to get points and/or discounts. This, obviously, messes up the actuarial models which this entire shared-value insurance proposition is premised on. The maths does work, despite what many may think.

Discovery’s use of heart rate started as evidence based observations of activities but they will pay for this in approximately 12-18 months from now when the membership changes and either moves off the platform or suffers enough negative press with middle age to older members suffering cardiac events and knee ops trying to reach Gold/Diamond.

I’ve Cycled prior years.. been doing so for a few years to get points in addiction to gym.. but that all came to a halt lately because cost of mtb or road cycling vs points (300 vs past 3000) is shocking. So I do the treadmill 30 min(instead of the prior 3hr event at 80% hr which is safer due to avg) run at gym, get the points and move one..yay. Interns of cross fitness I am a wreck now but hey, I am diamond according to Vitality and very fit apparently. I feel sorry for events that were once sponsored as there was a noticeable reduction in outdoor participation with the change.

Anyways.. watch Discovery Medical aid feedback on cases covered and in 2yrs time laugh with me when they increase their costs to cover the sudden increase in incidences. Apparently it’s already starting to happen.

PS. Consult with a cardiothoracic specialist and ask then what the impact on the body is of running, vs cycling & impact of getting heart rate up to 80% in 30 min vs avg over 1-3 hrs.. then watch how people attempt to get the Discovery Vitality 30min/80%hr target

As a financial advisor, member of Vitality (Diamond since 2010 or thereabouts) and also a member of Momentum multiply (also top tier for many years) I MUST comment that people really should evaluate their options between insurers as in my opinion is that Vitality has been losing steam for many years in a row and Multiply improving to the point that its no comparison. Quick couple of facts:
* The shoes are NOT free. You must to pay the activation fee of R 350 and do a totally unnecessary fitness test which cost around R 400.00. That is already close to 40% of the value. Then if you miss one week in a month (cold, travel etc) you only receive half of your cash back. Lastly, running shoes are generally quite a bit over R 2k now. Is there value in this benefit? Yes. How big is the actual discount? Small.
* On the same basis as above it is a small benefit. Additional to that a R 4 000.00 device is, unfortunately, a very low-end device these days. Especially considering that you need a device with Heart rate to get to gold on Vitality.
* Same with bike benefit.
* The removal of team rewards reduces Vitality’s cost as they now only have to reward you every three weeks (instead of every week) and they can manage what the giveaway since it is not promised up front. In addition, very few people get their goals 3 weeks in a row. But lets be honest, those smoothies are nice, but not healthy or adding too much value to your life.

I’m not opposed to Vitality AT all. I personally feel that they oversell benefits that are rarely utilised or realised by clients.

Meh… I could never really find value in it for me..

As a long term Discovery memeber utilising everything they offer except Discovery Insure – I am on the verge of riding off into the sunset – probably head towards Momentum – we’ll see.

We are a model Discovery family client and are continually amazed at how a company of Discovery’s standing can continually shoot themselves in the foot!!!

I maintain they, like the banks are too big and arrogant for the individual. To say they are concerned about each individuals well being is a blatant lie.

They have turned honest people of integrity into cheats and liars over silly things like points required and with their constantly changing requirements have completely lost my family’s trust and respect.

We probably won’t maintain our Diamond status this here due to this and, as mentioned by someone else above, would consider that our point of departure.

With 4 million odd subscibers, I doubt they would even care – so goes customer loyalty.

Like the banks – someone should introduce Discovery’s marketing department to the actuarial department – they’d be in for a shock!!!

Finally – the treatment of active healthy members has been totally shocking – visit The Hub – an online cycling forum here for some further and interesting reading :-

https://www.bikehub.co.za/forum/topic/155595-discovery-health-vitality-and-team-vitality-plus-everything-else-you-need-to-know/page-424#entry3197903

Thanks for this update/article Hilton! Please can you also give a similar update for Momentum Multiply which I understand announces details Wednesday next week.

Look, Vitality is a creature of statistics and any suggestion of concern for individual welfare is obviously just marketing puff.

Ironic that, since they claim increased longevity, the Vitality Age assessment doesn’t factor in retirees at all, every year I get the same sermon about my work relationships…

With Discovery you have to choose what works for you. I find value in the insurance products, for example the petrol rebate results in a net negative premium on my car, and the houseowner premium is very competitive. The monetary value in Vitality is mainly in the flight discount and the miles multiplier (in conjunction with the card). I don’t find that the healthy food rebate is sufficient compensation for shopping in expensive places, plus I’ve found it opaque and inconsistent.

But apart from the miles multiplier, the card product is substandard. If your income isn’t on a payslip, you don’t get much of a credit limit. I expect a similarly dumbed-down banking product propped up by complicated cross-selling.

Even the insurance products are at cross purposes sometimes. You would think neighbourhood watch patrols were a good thing for insurance companies but no, you get penalised for driving at night. Cruising round empty suburban streets at game-driving speeds may be safe enough for the individual, but statistically accidents happen at night. Tough.

I consider Vitality totally useless. Have been a member for several years and only lost money paid for the membership and gain nothing !Healthy food that they promote is not that healthy, e.g natural yougurt that is sold only as low fat or full fat is not included but all other full of sugar and fake fruits etc are because they are fat free !!!Also if your basket has too many so called unhealthy foods your points of healthy food are deducted ! I cancelled my Vitality in June this year and have no intention of joining again.Movies discount applied only to a member so if your partner is not a Vitality he/she pays full price. Much better movies deal is with Edgars Club offering the same discount as Vitality but for 2 people.With gym, unless you exercise 6-7 times per week, you hardly get any discount so you may as well join as an ordinary member, especially that gyms are offering a lot of specials now.

they dangle the carrot of Vitality ‘benefits’, but could there be a hidden agenda for getting people to sign up??With all the personal medical/lifestyle/financial data that they’ve got,what are they doing with that info?What really worries me about them is how private our medical data is. Do they comply with POPI? How would we know? Watch them like hawks I’d say.

Exactly, that’s the same question I asked myself 2 years ago. What do they do with that info. They knew everything about me, it made me uncomfortable. Hence I left.

1. They know you health status.
2. They know your fitness status
4. They have a GPS tracker on your car, so they know your whereabouts. (Short term insurance)
5. Soon, they will know your spending behavior with their new bank

So from all this information by using algorithms, they may be able to predict your:

1. Life expectancy
2. Your whereabouts
3. Financial situation
4. Health status

BIG BROTHER is watching. George Orwell 1984

The principle of the ‘Vitality’ system in its purest form is awesome. However, as one progresses through life and as one gets older with the age illnesses that occur like rheumatism, cancers, heart diseases, kidney and liver malfunctions, diabetes, just to name a few, it becomes more difficult to achieve the levels to reach Diamond status. It is sometimes also more difficult to get through the gym routines as one ages too.

The money back from healthy foods inevitably is less than the combined fees of the Discovery card and the cost of the air miles program attached to the card. I have had the card and air miles benefit now for seven years and have only notched up just under 4000 air miles. the cost therefore is ridiculously high. So, one month before the card air miles is due this time round I will move the miles to Avoid and then cancel that expensive ‘benefit’. I will also give up the Discovery card as it is one of the most expensive to own. There are many options out there at other banks that cost minimal fees opt in some cases are for free so getting a few peanuts back for buying healthy foods no longer makes sense to keep on with discovery.

Despite what Discovery says about trying to keep you fit and healthy, they are there primarily to siphon as much money out of your wallet as they can. They are not there because you need charity from that multi billion Rand organization.

End of comments.

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