Private/Public Sector Focus: re-thinking a state-owned Medical Insurance Scheme’s go-to-market strategy

When you are an employer with more than 1.2 million staff, public workers on your pay roll, the burden of increasing health insurance scheme subsidies becomes that much more overwhelming. Such was the case with the employer, the African state, which had think innovative and bring to the market, a first: the first state-owned in-house medical health insurance scheme. A game changer.

Using the agile outsourcing business model approach, the State placed the weight of the health insurance entity’s success in the hands of multiple private sector players, from health insurance the best of breed in their respective fields. From a policy and legislative framework the state along with its visionaries of the insurance scheme proactively tweaked legislation to make it necessary for its members of staff to cross over from the private insurance schemes onto the in-house scheme. The runaway was cleared for take-off: 1.2 million families were to move over, or face penalties.

Unfortunately for the state, having invested heavily in securing best practices and high end expertise along with legislative innovations the anticipated exodus did not happen at the rate that was expected. The roll-out was unfolding but at an undesired pace. Till a tipping point was reached, whereby curiosity by government staff towards the scheme dropped, as noted by the number of inquiries received, resistance increased amidst distrust by the staff of their employer’s intentions and capacity. Should they entrust their families into this seemingly ‘broken machinery of bureaucracy’ or perhaps bet their lives on this ‘experimental exercise’?
On the eve of our firm’s founding statements taking shape: our founder was allied to one of the outsourced partners, a multinational corporate within the accounting industry, amongst the big four. He compared notes with his inner-circle and colleagues working on the key account of the health insurance scheme. Naturally, synonymous with ‘the emperor’s new clothes’ tale, he suggested that he be relieved of his internal duties where he was ‘desk bound’ as he refers to it. To channel his energies into a ‘field Agent experiment’ that led to him realigning the scheme’s approach, exposure and reach significantly by a staggering margin.

Achieved through the old-school approach of building target relationships with well-placed influencers across the government, who as it were held keys to the gateways and byways into the government employees, the scheme’s treasured client base. This trend-setting experiment was duplicated across the company with much desired results, adding vigour to the scheme’s growth trajectory. This type of thinking has become synonymous with our firm’s thinking, as our founder insists that this type of ‘business unusual’ approach be infused it into every project we lay our hands on.

Long after he left the comfortable shores and payroll safety guarantees of the accounting firm to establish Gershon South Africa, our clients across the continent continue to benefit from this innovative thinking and approach to relationship building, as they entrust us with their key relationships building and negotiation mandates.