Why the CEO of a health insurance company focuses on prevention instead of cures

November 11, 2021, 12:30 AM UTC

When Adrian Gore founded his South African health insurance company, Discovery Vitality, in 1992, he didn’t buy into the idea that people’s preexisting conditions would be their forever story. Though there was little data at the time on the impact of lifestyle choices on health, he had a hunch that incentivizing people to take better care of themselves could pay off, both for his customers and his company.

As we’ve all come to learn, Gore was (mostly) right, and his company has continued along that trajectory ever since, with a focus on prevention and wellness instead of curative care. (Discovery has also expanded into banking, life insurance, prepaid health plans, and much more.)

One of the company’s core programs from the get-go was Vitality Points, which were awarded to customers based on their healthy-living choices, such as exercising. Over time, Gore and his team learned that incentives weren’t a driver for everybody. Plenty of customers were overly optimistic and just preferred making unhealthy short-term choices instead of thwarting what was decades down the road.

Gore joins Fortune cohosts Ellen McGirt and Alan Murray on Leadership Next, a podcast about the changing rules of business leadership, to talk about the health choices people make, why the American health care system doesn’t focus on prevention first, and inequities in access to healthful food and care. Listen to the full episode below.

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