Business / Business News

Hilton Tarrant
6 minute read
11 Jan 2017
7:38 am

Vitality 2017 changes explained

Hilton Tarrant

Discovery’s focus shifts decisively towards engagement and evidence-based activities….

It’s easy to argue that reaching Gold status on Discovery’s Vitality rewards programme is more difficult than ever this year. And that’s a good thing.

The theory of its “Shared-Value Insurance Model” is simple: incentives drive behaviour change through engagement which, in turn, makes people healthier (and that surplus value is shared). It passes these savings on to members – despite what the cynics may believe – across its insurance businesses (and soon, its banking one).

It’s important to remember that there’s no ‘right’ to be on Gold (or any other reward level). These tiers and the points allocations are directly linked to behavioural change and the annual tweaks adjust for what the insurer is seeing in its data. As at the end of its 2016 financial year, Discovery had 35 million years of health data, more than five years of mortality data and over 4.5 billion kilometers of telematics-linked driving data. Obviously, it’s using this along with other data, especially its Active Rewards programme, to make sure its members are more engaged – and healthier.

Honestly, you shouldn’t be aiming for Gold (or Diamond or Silver or Bronze) just because of the discounts on offer. Those are useful but, rather, your goal should be far more selfish: the higher your level, the healthier you are (in simplistic terms). And Discovery has proven that there is a direct link between these levels and things such as mortality, claims (in other words, hospital visits!) and accidents (as well as, usefully for the insurer which runs a business after all, defaults and lapses). Simply put: Vitality members live longer than non-Vitality members. Surely this should be your driving factor?!


Source: Discovery results presentation, 2016

Active Rewards, in particular, has become a very useful carrot and stick for Vitality as it requires engagement (i.e. physical activity) weekly. Overall, there’s been a marked shift away from once-off assessment-type points events to ongoing ones.


The online assessments (which previously could earn you up to 5 500 points for clicking a few boxes (and possibly being selective about the truth)) have been collapsed into a single online assessment for your Vitality Age, worth 2 500 points. The non-smoking declaration, too, has shifted away from on online tickbox and now forms part of the in-person Vitality Health Check at pharmacies, Discovery Stores or corporate wellness days. Across the assessments category, the total possible number of points which you could earn is roughly in-line with last year.

But, the major change is in the fitness category where the in-person assessment is now more in-depth and will use a treadmill or Wattbike to measure cardiorespiratory fitness (versus the old step and push-up test). The maximum amount of points you’re able to earn for this assessment drops to a maximum of 7 500 (most of this drop is due to the fact that points from these assessments will be awarded once a year from 2017 – you used to be able to earn up to 10 000 points twice a year).

Beyond the assessment, the annual 30 000 maximum for fitness points remains but you’ll have to earn the rest for ongoing, tracked physical activity. The additional benefit is that tracking these activities will earn you weekly rewards (Kauai smoothies/coffees, Vida e caffè drinks and, soon, Mugg and Bean drinks or Ster Kinekor popcorn), if you’ve activated Active Rewards.

Finally, the outsize amount of points able to be earned from sitting through a 30 minute ‘consultation’ with a dietician has been reduced drastically to 1 000 (from as much as 10 000 previously).

  Maximum points 2016 2017
Assessments Online 5500 2500
Health Check1 Up to 12000 Up to 200002
Non-smoking declaration 5000
HIV test 5000
Dental health check 2000 1000
Total, excl. further assessments 29500 28500
Further assessments 100003 110004
Fitness Fitness assessments5 Up to 20000 Up to 7500
High performance fitness assessment6 Up to 7500 Up to 10000
Physical activity 50-3000 per activity
Overall maximum for physical activity (including fitness assessments) 30000
Eating Healthy Food items 20 per item (less 20 for each unhealthy item)7
Visit a dietician Up to 100008 1000
Weekly weigh-in at Weight Watchers SA 150 1509

1 Comprises blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and a weight assessment.

2 In 2017, the Health Check includes the non-smoking declaration. One measure in range: 2 500, two: 5 000, three: 10 000, four: 15 000, all five: 20000 points.

3 These include pap smear (women 16-65), mammogram (women 40+), colonoscopy (50+), glaucoma (40+).

4 In 2017, a vision test for members 60 years and older earns 1000 points.

5 Previously, you could do two fitness assessments per year to earn points. From 2017, points will only be allocated for one per year.

6 Previously called the Elite Fitness Assessment. Members need to fulfill certain qualifying criteria for this assessment.

7 Maximum of 1 000 per month (previously 12 000 per year).

8 5 000 points awarded for the first visit, with a further 2500 for the second and third visits in a year.

9 Maximum of 3 000 per year.

Getting to gold

An ‘average’, engaged middle-aged member used to be able to earn 20 500 points for the health checks (±4 in range, online and HIV), plus 10 000 for their fitness assessments and 5 000 points for a single visit to a dietician, for a total of 35 500. Using the 2016 criteria (and 2015 and 2014 weren’t vastly different), this left them with very little to do to reach Gold! A couple of gym entry swipes (required to keep that discount going anyway) and some healthy food shopping and they were at the 45 000 target. In past years, you could quite literally ‘buy’ your way to Gold (by, for example, doing all the assessments (twice, where possible) and spending an additional R680 on two additional dietician visits to earn the extra 5 000 points) in the cottage industry that’s sprung up over recent years.

In 2017, doing the basics will leave you far shorter of that 45 000 point threshold for Gold. Checks could earn that same average, engaged member 22 500 points (4 in range, online and HIV), a level four score on the fitness assessment will translate into 5 000 points (and the visit to the dietician, for this type of member at least, would be a waste). This totals 27 500 points, which leaves 17 500 points left to earn. You can quickly see how important those 900 points (the current maximum) a week for Active Rewards are. Getting to Gold means 20 weeks of hitting your goal. Bluntly, you need to be active for around half the year.

A more detailed summary of 2017 points, including family vaccinations, expecting and new mothers and child dependents, is available here.

Points threshold, pricing adjustments

Vitality has also adjusted the points thresholds for the Silver and Bronze levels downwards, following the allocation changes. The contribution pricing increases by 10% across the board and assessments – particularly the new fitness one – are more expensive (41%, in that specific case!).

The results from your assessments don’t exactly go into a black box; they are shared with you and could help you make some important changes to your lifestyle and wellness. In summary, make an effort. It really is not difficult to get to Gold. And, there should absolutely be nothing more important to you than your health….

Single member points thresholds 2016 2017
Bronze 15000 10000
Silver 35000 30000
Gold 45000
Platinum Reach Gold for three years in a row


Vitality contributions 2016 2017
Main member R199 R219
Member + 1 R239 R265
Member + 2 R269 R296


Assessments/activations 2016 2017
Health Check1 R170 R180
Fitness Assessment2 R265 R375
Nutrition Consultation R340 Pricing not available
Gym activation fee R1450 R1750

1 Members of most Discovery Health administered medical schemes are covered for one Vitality Health Check a year from their Screening and Prevention Benefit (this won’t impact day-to-day benefits).

2 This assessment will need to be paid for upfront. You are able to claim this amount from your day-to-day benefits if your Medical Scheme plan covers the cost and you have funds available.

* Hilton Tarrant works at immedia. He can still be contacted at

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