BY PRECIOUS CHIDA
MEDICAL aid societies are reportedly financing lavish lifestyles from proceeds from members and not paying service providers, including doctors most of them are now demanding cash upfront from patients, NewsDay has learnt.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe interim president Johannes Marisa accused the medical aid firms of being inconsiderate to medical practitioners, whom they now accuse of greed.
Patients are now on the receiving end as practitioners are now rejecting medical aid cards, demanding cash upfront while charging in United States dollars.
“Private practitioners have been pushed into abject poverty. All the blame concerning patient care has been heaped on them while we witness medical executives driving latest vehicles with unlimited fuel supplies every month,” Marisa said.
“The people should know that the actual service providers are at a disadvantage as they have to fork out money for clinic or surgery rentals, personal protective equipment, salaries, drugs, sanitisation, waste disposal, council levies plus operating licences.”
He said medical aid firms had not remitted anything to medical practitioners since January and the situation had now been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“PSMAS [Premier Service Medical Aid Society] is one of them and I wonder if it is fashionable not to pay service providers. Despite PSMAS putting a tariff of $75 as consultation, the money has not even come to us as practitioners. The $75 pegged now translates to US$0,80 if we are to consider the ever-spiralling black market rate,” he said.
“The impression given by utterances by some executive members of these medical aid societies is that of a greedy, inconsiderate, inhumane medical practitioner who is there to profiteer.”
Service providers said this was disadvantaging them as they have to fund the business from their own pockets.
PSMAS spokesperson Tsitsi Chawatama said the charges that service providers were placing on their services were tracking the United States dollar rate, which has made their members experience shortfalls.
“The society tariffs, in line with our subscription capacity, are currently lower than the service provider charges, which are tracking the US$ rate,” she said.
“We have been made aware that some service providers have decided to stop accepting our public sector membership cards citing differences in our reimbursement model.
“Consequently, our members have been experiencing shortfalls due to the high costs of healthcare as a result of the hyperinflationary environment. However, we are in continuous consultation with all stakeholders in order to find a solution that places the member first, while also ensuring the sustainability of the service providers and medical aid funders.”
Other medical aid firms were yet to respond to enquiries from NewsDay.