Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm
Destiny Health began offering its unique rewards-based health insurance plans to companies with fewer than 50 employees this year. Previously, the Johannesburg, South Africa-based health insurance carrier, which has a local office in Brookfield, only offered health insurance plans to companies with more than 50 employees. Destiny’s U.S. headquarters are located in Chicago.
Destiny Health’s plans include health and wellness programs, which the company’s executives believe are an attractive benefit to small businesses.
Most small businesses are not able to afford their own health and wellness programs, said Robert Gilmore, sales manager for Destiny Health in Wisconsin. However, those wellness programs can help make employees healthier, so they make fewer visits to the doctor, resulting in fewer health insurance claims and therefore lower health insurance premiums, Gilmore said. (See contributed article on page 26.)
"This isn’t just about exercising," Gilmore said. "It’s also about education and comprehensive care."
Destiny Health’s plans feature high deductibles paired with a "personal health fund," either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Adding the health and wellness programs with incentives encourages employees to keep their health care costs down, Gilmore said.
"We’ve demonstrated a need in the market," Gilmore said. "(Employers) are receptive to a new kind of benefits and insurance. The plan gives (employees) incentives to be better consumers, but insurance protection they have less control over."
What really makes Destiny’s plans different than other health insurance programs is the Vitality program, the company’s name for its health and wellness awards programs, Gilmore and Destiny sales consultant Mike Farrell said.
The Vitality rewards members for engaging in healthy activities.
"It’s something different from an insurance company – offering incentives to get people to do things that we know help to control costs," he said. "Through the years, Vitality has grown in South Africa, and it’s become the calling card of the plan."
Vitality features four different levels of incentives for employees to engage in healthy activities: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Members gain points by making sure they see their doctor for annual checkups, getting flu shots, taking part in a smoking cessation program, staying smoke free, progress in a weight loss program and more.
Participants reaching certain incentive levels can be reimbursed for their costs health club memberships, weight loss programs and smoking cessation programs.
Members reaching some incentive levels also can earn movie theater tickets, magazine subscriptions and even discounted vacation packages.
The Vitality program also gives out "reward miles" which can either be used to purchase goods from Destiny Health Plan’s Web site (www.destinyhealth.com) or for airline tickets through American, United or Delta airlines.
Participants also are allowed to roll over funds in their personal medical funds, either HRAs or HSAs. And with higher levels of status within the program, participants are able to generate higher interest rates paid to their personal medical funds. The platinum level pays 7 percent more than the bronze level.
Destiny Health started in South Africa, where its Vitality program grew to take up about 25 percent of that country’s health insurance market by 2000. That same year, the company began introducing its products in the United States, starting with offices in Illinois.
Destiny currently sells to companies in Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Aside from the individual costs that can be repaid to participants within the Vitality program, Destiny Health also administers the HSAs it offers. Gilmore and Farrell said most health insurers have HSAs administered by banks or credit unions.
"That makes us fully integrated – kind of a one-stop shopping," Gilmore said. "All of the customer service associated through the plan is administered through Destiny Health."
– September 16, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI