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Four medical aid societies face collapse

Four medical aid societies face collapse as government ordered them to pay the gazetted medical tariffs backdated to May.

Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Paul Chimedza
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Paul Chimedza

Speaking at a graduation and award giving ceremony of health workers at Avenues Clinic in Harare recently, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr Paul Chimedza said out of 23 registered medical aid societies, only Cimas, First Mutual Life, Masca and Sovereign Health had failed to comply with government’s new tariffs.

“We’re concerned about a few medical aid societies that are not following this tariff, threatening the viability of hospitals, threatening the viability of private practitioners, of the health care industry as a whole, including the laboratories and all other entities that we’ve put the tariffs for,” he said.

Dr Chimedza said the Private Hospitals’ Association formally put its complaint against the societies last week, hence government’s decision to act on the four errant health funders.

He said government had not been acting on errant societies because no service provider had lodged a formal complaint with government —which was the regulating body for medical aid societies.

“Up to now there was no proper formal complaint that was put to the Ministry but we’ve since received a formal complaint from PHA last week and we’re going to act,” Dr Chimedza said.

He said government had since written to all societies warning those that were not paying up may not have their licences renewed.

He said one of the pre-requisites for licensing medical aid societies was their ability to pay a prevailing medical fee.

Dr Chimedza warned the four societies that unless they paid up their dues, they were not going to be licensed next month during renewal period.

Medical aid societies are licensed to operate every year by government.

“Failure to pay a prevailing fee means you cannot be licensed because you are not meeting your obligations. So to those four medical aid societies please take heed and pay, backdated to the date that we gazetted the tariffs,” said Dr Chimedza.

Dr Chimedza bemoaned bad governance by some health funders, which he said awarded management ridiculous salaries at the expense of service delivery.

Some private hospitals are already charging shortfalls and co-payments to members on the said medical aid societies.

Earlier, Avenues Clinic board of directors chairman Pearson Chitando, had urged government to deal with non-compliance of health funders to the gazetted tariffs as a matter of urgency.

“We call upon the government to intervene urgently and solve the impasse that is now threatening the provision of quality health care in the country,” said Chitando.

Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Shylet Sanyanga, could not be drawn into commenting on the latest development while the affected medical aid societies referred Harare Bureau to AHFoZ.

“I’ve no comment,” she said in response to emailed questions yesterday.

In May this year, government gazetted $35 as consultation fee for general practitioners up from $20, while specialist services were increased to an average of $120 up from $80.

By law, medical aid societies and service providers were supposed to agree on a common tariff. Their failure to come up with this common tariff resulted in government’s intervention as the regulator.

However, these new tariffs have been blasted by many as unsustainable in a de-flationary economic environment. The Herald