Make heathcare essential commodity: Healthcare Funders

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

THE Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) has appealed to authorities to consider placing healthcare in the essential commodities category, just like fuel, wheat and cooking oil, for ease of access to foreign currency.

AHFoZ said in an effort to reduce the gap between its rates and what other service providers were charging, its rates had been adjusted in February this year
and again in July.

“Regrettably, these increases still fall far short of other service providers’ rates, which vary according to the exchange rate for the day. AHFoZ rates seem
to be chasing a moving target; a chase which is neither practical nor sustainable. AHFoZ rates are funded from member contributions,” it said.

It said members’ salaries have not been going up, while most employer organisations were reluctant to increase employment costs and were unwilling to increase
medical aid contributions, given the myriad of challenges that the employers are facing.

“Contribution increases that have been effected by medical aid societies are not benchmarked on the United States dollar and are still nowhere near the fees
being charged by service providers,” AHFoZ said.

“AHFoZ appeals to the authorities to consider placing healthcare in the essential commodities category, just like fuel, wheat and cooking oil, for ease of
access to foreign currency,” it added.

AHFoZ said this would keep healthcare costs under control and avoid stock-outs of essential drugs and consumables for pharmaceutical suppliers, hospitals,
laboratories and radiology services.

As regards healthcare service providers who do not require foreign currency for their daily operations, AHFoZ proposed that there be a sincere broad
stakeholder engagement to discuss and alleviate the suffering of patients, which it said was due largely to speculative pricing.

“The country needs healthy people to work and revive the economy. A sick nation is a poor nation,” it said.

AHFoZ said medical aid societies affiliated to it were paying healthcare service providers at least once a month and in some cases twice a month.

However, because most healthcare service providers were benchmarking their fees in US$ and using the prevailing exchange rate to charge for their services,
there was a mismatch between the fees service providers are charging and the AHFoZ rates for services provided.

This has resulted in patients being asked to pay huge shortfalls, it said.

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