Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) will make all its 23 medical aid plans Shari’ah-compliant to cater for Muslims and Islamic institutions. The scheme said its plans will be administered according to the Shari’ah principle for those who want it on 1 June 2022.

This will be the first Shari’ah-compliant medical scheme arrangement in South Africa to meet the needs of the Muslim community as the Shari’ah economic system differs from the conventional economic systems on certain things. For instance, the charging and receiving of interest are prohibited in the Shari’ah economic system.

“The Shari’ah Compliant Arrangement is available to existing and new members of DHMS on all 23 medical aid plans, and while they cater specifically for members of the Muslim community, anyone is welcome to make this selection for a plan arrangement designed with the Shar’iah principles,” wrote Discovery in the announcement.

Discovery Health said customers who follow the Islamic law require closer alignment of their current health funding arrangements with all aspects of their religious practices, thus the move to introduce these changes.

Farzana Baba, the head of health product development at Discovery Health, said participating members’ contributions and balances after the settlement of claims will be invested in accordance with Shari’ah principles.

“This resets healthcare funding not only for the Muslim community but also for any member of a medical scheme who prefers to have surplus funds generated by them invested in this manner,” she said.

Discovery said any existing DHMS members can elect to have their current plan administered this way without any changes to their benefits or limits.

Discovery initially introduced Shariah-compliant arrangements on its medical scheme options in 2021 but had to temporarily suspend it as the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) had not approved the specific Scheme Rules that would enable it at the time.

After that initial introduction, the company said it got “overwhelming support” from South African consumers that could not previously join a medical scheme.

The company said it has taken two years of working with the CMS to ensure that its Shari’ah compliant arrangement is here to stay now.

“After engaging closely with the Council for Medical Schemes, we’re excited to bring this innovation to market, effectively broadening access to medical scheme products to the Muslim community. The absence of such arrangements historically left many of the Muslim community uninsured, and we’re proud to be addressing this gap,” said Discovery’s chief marketing officer, Firoze Bhorat.


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