The Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) has revealed that it will be accepting health insurance from seven medical aid societies who have been complying with the 60-day payment rule, and or the gazetted tariffs.Liberty Insurance, Masca, CellMed, Cimas, Generation, First Mutual and Northern are the seven companies which are said to be compliant with either or both of the two regulations.
Bupa and Discovery, which are not domiciled in Zimbabwe, have also been given reprieve.
This follows the passing of Zima’s July 1 deadline to stop accepting medical aid cards and demand cash upfront.
The association has, however, advised its members to reject cards from the medical aid societies outside those mentioned.
There are 24 medical aid societies in Zimbabwe.
“Members are advised not to accept health insurance companies that are not on this list as Zima has not received any evidence from members about their compliance,” said Zima national secretary general, Dr Shingi Bopoto.
Sources say some doctors were on Friday already referring medical aid holding patients who could not pay cash to public health institutions.
Zima had, about a month ago, indicated that they will be referring patients who could not pay cash to Parirenyatwa Hospital and other Government hospitals.
“Where patients do not have sums in their account, all patients will be appropriately referred to Government health institutions such as Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals where they will be provided with the necessary healthcare at all times,” Zima president, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said then.
Meanwhile, the move is anticipated to increase congestion in major public hospitals and Government says it has put in place measures to decongest the hospitals so that those who are referred there can conveniently be treated.
Health and Childcare Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa, last week told Parliament that the issue of congestion in major health institutions is because some clinics where only offering very basic health services.
“What we are doing, and I have said this before — if you look at Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare, all the provincial hospitals are congested,” he was quoted in the Hansard.
“A lot of them do not have district hospitals like Parirenyatwa and Harare Central hospitals. So a patient is seen at Budiriro Clinic and if it is a challenge they are immediately referred to Harare Central hospital because there is no interim or middle hospital where they can be treated.
“When you go to that clinic now as I speak, if you walk into that clinic, you will find that the services that they are providing are very, and I am saying this word with a lot of respect, are very basic. I will say basic because they could do a lot more.
“Those polyclinics could do a lot more instead of mwana anenge awonekwa paHighfield Clinic akaminyuka ruwoko pane kuti mumutumire kuHarare hospital for an X-ray, because that is the only other place where they can go.
“Ondosvikoita queue up for just a fracture, onoita queue up kuti aitwe x-ray paHarare Central Hospital. We are saying no, no, no; Budiriro Clinic should have X-ray machines, laboratory and a doctor who stays there full time.
“That is how we are decongesting and trying to assist. This we will do so that we are able then to say we have built up capacity. We cannot just say we cannot do it because there is no capacity.”
Dr Parirenyatwa said the same should happen in the rural areas.
“In the rural areas, the same thing should happen. We have got district hospitals that are surrounded by clinics or health centres. We are now saying from the health centre, we must go to the villages and build up village health posts.”
There have been repeated reports of overcrowding at Harare Hospital and Parirenyatwa hospitals and the impasse between doctors and medical aid societies could make the situation worse.
The two have been fighting over payment issues as well as disagreements over tariffs and Government has not managed to resolve the issue for a long time now.
Although medical aid societies contend that their payments are up to date, Zima has maintained its position saying it is owed about $200 million with doctors.
The development has left patients being the most disadvantaged as they are the ones having to part with more money.
Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT) says the economic and social implications of Zima’s stance is severe on the patients.
“Such a move has a net effect of decreasing accessibility of health care by the majority of the people and the country risks losing out on the progress that it had made on MDGs related goals between 2000 and 2015,” said PRFT media officer Pretty Chavango.
“Zimbabweans will bear the burden of such a move and their rights to access health as enshrined in the new constitution will be infringed and this automatically affects economic growth and poverty reduction efforts.
“PRFT believes the impasse between medical aid insurers and the health services providers is a symptom of a number of underlying social and economic challenges that are affecting the health services sector.”
Government has also embarked on the process of crafting a Bill for regulation of medical aid societies. – The Sunday Mail