Covid-19 anti-vaxxers face being hit with increased Discovery ...

News

Covid-19 anti-vaxxers face being hit with increased Discovery premiums

Refusal to be vaccinated will be treated similarly to smoking or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, says insurer

Consumer journalist
Discovery Life says it wants to reward its clients who have helped the country by getting vaccinated. File photo.
Discovery Life says it wants to reward its clients who have helped the country by getting vaccinated. File photo.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES/SEBABATSO MOSAMO

Anti-vaxxers who don’t take the Covid-19 jab could “unfortunately” be hit with higher Discovery Life premiums, while those who are vaccinated will benefit from lower premiums.

This was because of the increased risk of not being vaccinated, Discovery Life CEO Riaan van Reenen said.

This kicks in for new clients from Thursday, July 29.

The insurer’s announcement on Thursday afternoon — of what it calls a “first-of-its-kind underwriting determinant for the South African life insurance market” — is, predictably, infuriating anti-vaxxers and delighting pro-vaxxers in equal measure.

“Disgusting,” commented @StylerKnows on Twitter.

@mahomedsheikamo called it “Satan @work”.

“Good thing God is in the vaccines,” quipped @DildoRobot.

Van Reenen said: “We want to reward our clients who have helped the country by getting vaccinated. Through our premium PayBack reward mechanism, we are offering all qualifying clients their maximum possible PayBack, given their selected PayBack option and Integrator type, for the first year of their new policy.

“Clients are asked upfront if they have already been vaccinated, or if they plan to get vaccinated as soon as circumstances allow. If they answer yes they will get the offer.”

Statistics provided by Discovery Life, from a Financial Times article, shows how those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to be admitted to hospital. The company says it is going to reward new clients who had received the vaccination with lower premiums.
Statistics provided by Discovery Life, from a Financial Times article, shows how those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to be admitted to hospital. The company says it is going to reward new clients who had received the vaccination with lower premiums.
Image: Supplied / Discovery

But clients with new policies who refuse to get vaccinated “may, unfortunately”, be subject to higher premiums due to the increased risk, Van Reenen said.

“Refusal to be vaccinated is treated similarly to smoking or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, which receive a higher premium. This premium will be adjusted should an unvaccinated client later decide to get vaccinated.”

Discovery Life paid its highest amount in claims in a single month during January 2021.

A Discovery spokesperson confirmed to Sunday Times Daily that existing clients’ risk and premium would not be affected by their vaccination status.

Discovery Health’s extensive claims data reveals that Covid-19 adds significant risk to the health of life insurance clients across all age groups.

The medical scheme’s data also reveal that people infected with the Delta Covid-19 variants have a 95% lower risk of being hospitalised after having both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with significant benefits even after a single dose.

And three weeks after taking their first dose of the Pfizer vaccination, people have a 47% lower risk of contracting Covid-19.

“Our research reveals that middle-aged clients have the highest relative increase in mortality risk once becoming infected with Covid-19,” Van Reenen said.

“The mortality risk is more than 10 times higher for people in their mid-40s, so the risks caused by contracting Covid-19 cannot be ignored in any age group.”

Risk due to Covid-19 was two-fold, Van Reenen said — “mortality and morbidity risk”.

“While life cover will always be essential throughout the pandemic, morbidity risks manifest through benefits such as the Income Continuation Benefit and Severe Illness Benefits which are associated with severe cases of Covid-19.

“By reducing their risks arising from Covid-19, Discovery Life clients create savings which can then be returned to them and their immediate families.”

Through engagement with Vitality and their financial advisers, Discovery Life can determine a client’s individual level of risk and pass insurance savings back to them through rewards such as lower premiums and PayBacks.

“This same concept applies to vaccinations, since they result in healthier clients,” Van Reenen said.

“Our internal data suggests that an average 75-year-old who is vaccinated has the same risk of dying from Covid-19 as a 40-year-old who has not been vaccinated.

“Vaccinations are also extremely effective in preventing hospitalisations: even if only 8% of a population does not get fully vaccinated, that 8% will experience more hospitalisations than the other 92%.

“This follows from the fact that vaccinated individuals experience a 94% lower real rate of admission than those who are not vaccinated,” he added.

subscribe