PSMAS audit long overdue

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Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa

BY Johannes Marisa
THERE was a lot of hullabaloo about Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) for the past two weeks and many people were left wondering if the medical aid society will ever be viable.

The noise has been going on for days now and the tiff between PSMAS board members has spilt into the courts.

There are accusations and counter-accusations that government wants to take over PSMAS, an accusation I personally think is unfounded.

PSMAS is the largest medical aid society that was founded in 1930 and has a membership of at least 600 000 people, the majority of whom are civil servants who are under government payroll.

Since the beginning of 2022, government has injected more than $5,2 billion into PSMAS coffers, but the quality of service leaves a lot to be desired.

PSMAS has failed to re-brand itself, especially in the eyes of service providers who view it as an unrepentant medical aid society that does not care for the plight of service providers and its clients.

It is not easy to run surgeries, clinics and hospitals in the midst of bad debtors and at a time when there is sky-rocketing inflation.

Government has ordered a forensic audit of the medical aid society.

The conflicts at PSMAS need to be sorted out to the satisfaction of all stakeholders and it is imperative that the audit ordered by the regulator of medical aid societies be completed as soon as possible.

Some members of the board appear to be conflicted as they have launched a puzzling and embarrassing activism that ridiculously claims that government wants to take over PSMAS.

For real, a forensic audit is now overdue and it is imperative that all hands co-operate for the benefit of everyone as many people are feeling short-changed by the drama unfolding at the once-prosperous medical aid society.

One is left wondering why a medical aid society can venture into mining and microfinance at a time when Premier Service Medical Investments is struggling to honour its ethical obligations of paying salaries and benefits.

Where is service delivery when such things are allowed to happen under our watch?

With or without audit, what we desire is a sound medical aid society that can deliver as per expectations.

For so long, service providers have cried foul after being ill-treated by medical aid societies.

Medical professionals are often labelled thieves who are greedy and are only after money when they raise red flags about medical aid societies.

Complaints have been raised against PSMAS for too long now and nothing concrete has been done, even by the regulator up to this date.

Many service providers have gone for months without being paid a single cent.

Consequently, there is utmost rejection of PSMAS card holders by most service providers.

The person to suffer is not the managing director of the medical aid society, but the clients who are forced to move from one surgery to another in search of service.

Many people end up losing lives because of failure to access medical care yet there are accusations of massive plunder at PSMAS.

The executives are said to be driving state-of-the-art off-road vehicles that gobble thousands of dollars in fuel on a daily basis, yet the civil servants cannot even afford to use the PSMAS card to purchase just a month’s course of anti-hypertensives.

Medical aid societies have trampled upon many service providers’ rights and the level of strangulation is so obnoxious that the words “medical aid” have become disgusting in the minds of many service providers.

Non-payment of service providers happens in the midst of the same medical aid societies purchasing exquisite properties and establishing clinics that naturally outcompete the small clinics that are run by individual doctors or nurses.

A PSMAS audit can expose financial mismanagement, bad decisions or even bad corporate governance issues which could be contributing to the demise of the biggest medical aid society in Zimbabwe.

Auditing is thus a step in the right direction. We are the service providers who have been shedding tears for years without remedy.

Whatever steps are taken to change the trajectory at PSMAS will be welcome if we are to have a better service from the giant medical aid society.

  •  Johannes Marisa is the president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.