Discovery building in Sandton. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Discovery building in Sandton. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

The assumption of Hanna Ziady’s article "Adverse Side Effects" (Features, May 10-16) about why doctors dislike Discovery doesn’t go far enough.

I can assure you that many Discovery members too are dissatisfied with the company. Aside from its focus on consumer goodies (and blatant exploitation of its health channel to cross-sell other products), the technical quality of its health services is appalling.

One example: it claims to support prescribed minimum benefits [but] cost-cuts to the point that this coverage is deeply flawed. So if you have bloods taken for cholesterol checks and are found to need medication, the company will not pay for the second blood test to check whether the medications are working until a year has passed.

So, textual compliance yes, good medicine no. And I could provide many more examples of the same.

The failure to pay for complete procedures is cunningly disguised by the use of a "savings account". This is simply a con in which customers provide the company with an interest-free loan. If you decline the savings account, Discovery won’t pay for full procedures, like both before and after blood tests.

It really is time that we treat health schemes rather like the audit industry. Allow them to do health or they can choose financial services and consumer marketing, but they should not be allowed to do both.

Doctors used to be called "leeches" but these days the epithet is best directed at companies like Discovery. If further evidence is required, the gross new Sandton palace it has built as a head office is surely further confirmation that this is a company run by an ego-and profit-driven management that has long lost sight of its original purpose.

Mike Muller
Johannesburg

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