Following the tiff between doctors and medical aid societies, the Zimbabwe Medical Association has laid the blame on Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa. Zima had threatened that with effect from July 1, medical aid card holders would be required to pay cash upfront when seeking health services. The association is claiming that health professionals are owed at least US$220 million by medical aid societies.
In a bid to resolve the impasse, Government, through the Health and Child Care ministry threatened not to renew operating licenses for defaulting funders. However, it is not yet clear if this was carried through.
It is understood that the majority of medical aid societies had been issued with temporary operating licenses valid until June 30 for failure to remit claims to service providers within the expected 60-day period. Zima said the minister has failed to deal with the matter decisively as is expected of him.
The Sunday Mail is in possession of minutes from a meeting held between doctors, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Zimra officials last week.
“The Zima secretary general would like members to know that we have been here (in a similar meeting) before, where the Minister of Health and Child Care has promised to deal with delinquent health insurance companies. Instead of taking action, he was given an advance payment of US$100 000 (apparent capitation),” reads the minutes.
“Several engagements with statutory bodies and the minister have taken place with no improvement. “Health insurance companies are breaking various regulations and policies that prescribe the settlement period as well as the amount to be paid for consultations.”
Zima also accused the ministry of not consulting them on important issues.
“The Minister of Health and Child Care has promised that ZiMA will be given the list of health insurance companies that the Ministry intends to license for Zima to give input. The office responsible has informed Zima (through telephone) that he is not going to give such a list,” read the minutes.
Efforts to get a comment from Dr Parirenyatwa were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered. The stand-off between service providers and health funders began in 2008 with doctors expressing displeasure on the late payment of claims and prescribed rates.
In May 2014, the Government gazetted consultation fees for general practitioners at US$35, up from US$20 while specialist services were increased to an average of US$120, up from US$80. However, the Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (Ahfoz) advised its members to pay doctors US$25 for initial consultation and US$18 for reviews. Government licences medical aid societies annually on the basis of a good record in paying health service providers.
Zima has since adviced its members to accept medical aid cards from Liberty Health, MASCA, Cellmed, Cimas, Generation Health, First Mutual and Northern Medical Aid societies as they have shown commitment in paying service providers within the mandatory 60-day period. – The Sunday Mail