Medical practitioners now reject Zimdollar medical aid

Healthcare providers and insurers have switched to foreign currency

Policyholders subscribing to medical aid insurance in Zimbabwe dollars have been unsettled by huge shortfalls, as healthcare providers and insurers switch to foreign currency.

While official statistics indicate that Zimbabwe’s economy is now 80% dollarised, the majority of workers still earn in the volatile domestic unit, which is being rejected across markets.

But businessdigest learnt during the recent Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) congress in Harare that service providers trying to hedge against volatilities and heavy shortfalls were accumulating on Zimbabwe dollar-indexed accounts.

Businessdigest was told this week that most medical aid subscribers were now failing to access private healthcare from providers, which are charging between US$20 and US$50 cash upfront to cover shortfalls for consultation fees.

Speaking during the recent Zima congress, Health minister Douglas Mombeshora, who was represented by Harare provincial medical director Innocent Hove, said the government was concerned with failure by medical aid societies to manage contributions sustainably.

“Our medical aid societies should ensure that those who run (medical aid societies) funds do not just take subscriptions without providing a commensurate service,” Mombeshora said.

But medical providers argued that claiming money from funders was an uphill task.

“Why is the funder receiving millions of money from people and delaying to pay practitioners? Why is the government not instituting the anti-fraud system?” Zima president Kudzai Masinire queried.

The provision of medical healthcare has been painful for consumers, with devastating outcomes.

An investigation by this publication revealed that trust between medical providers and insurance companies had broken down.

“The amounts being paid by policyholders to medical aid societies contradicts the amounts the medical aid will be covering for the medical services, hence a serious issue which needs to be addressed,” Masinire said. “Co-payments have affected us since members had to make additional out-of-pocket payments for healthcare costs. We continue to engage our service providers regarding tariffs charged to the members.”

With shortfalls emanating from Zimbabwe dollar-denominated medical insurance widening, some consumers can no longer afford private medical healthcare in Zimbabwe.

Cimas Medical Aid Society said in an interview this week that the increasing costs of healthcare services were becoming a headache for medical insurance companies.

“The increasing cost of healthcare services  is a contributing factor to shortfalls/co-payments as healthcare service providers, including Cimas healthcare facilities, procure medical supplies and sundries in foreign currency,” Cimas said.

“In this regard, members on local currency packages should expect US dollar shortfalls even at Cimas healthcare facilities. As Cimas Medical Aid Fund, we continue exploring strategies to ensure card acceptability and maintain its buying power to afford our members the much-needed medical cover.”

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