HomeNewsCompetition Commission investigates CIMAS

Competition Commission investigates CIMAS

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The Competition and Tariff Commission says it is investigating CIMAS Medical Aid Society for allegedly perpetrating anti-competitive market practices by refusing to settle claims for kidney dialysis treatment done at medical Centers other than Harare Haemodialysis Centre (HHC) in which it has a 51% stake.

The authority will convene stakeholder hearings at its Harare offices tomorrow.

Dialysis is the artificial process of getting rid of harmful toxins or waste from the blood.

A renal failure patient undergoes dialysis twice a week.

Without this, waste accumulates in the bloodstream up to levels that would cause coma and death.

In a statement, the Competition Commission said on January 19 this year, it received complaints from CIMAS’ clients that the country’s largest medical aid fund had refused to settle claims for dialysis treatment done at the B Braun Avenues Centre — a new competitor — and referred the patients to HHC.

According to the authority, the allegations constitute “restrictive practices”.

“The allegations levelled against CIMAS are that it is refusing to honour claims for dialysis treatment from B. Braun Avenues Centre, implying that members are forced to get treatment from HCC,” the commission said.

“The practice has the following effects: a) restricting the distribution of dialysis services; b) limiting the facilities, in this instance finances available for the distribution of dialysis services by any other centre; c) preventing the distribution of dialysis services by the most efficient means; d) preventing or restricting entry into the dialysis market and e) preventing or retarding the expansion of the dialysis market.”

In response to the complaints of patients, the Competition Commission said it instituted preliminary investigations into the alleged practices and established that “there was a prima facie case that CIMAS was engaging in the alleged restrictive practices in contravention of the provisions of the Act”.

As required by law, the investigations also involved eliciting the views of the Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, CIMAS and its competitors in the medical aid industry.

In its submission, CIMAS argued that it is not obliged to cover chronic illness in terms of the provisions of the Medical Services Act, stating dialysis by its nature was generally not insurable across the world.

But the Competition Commission says its preliminary investigations showed that PSMAS and First Mutual – CIMAS’ most eminent competitors – “are paying for dialysis”.

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