Treat fly-by-night medical aid societies with caution

Most medical aid societies became conflicted when they went into service provision

Zimbabwe has more than 35 medical aid societies that are operating at the moment. It’s only about 10% of the population in our country that has medical insurance, leaving about 14,5 million people uninsured.

Many people have lost confidence in medical aid societies as many of them are known for unethical practices where service providers are not paid their dues timeously.

A lot of reasons are given for non-payment with technical issues being put into the fray as well. The end result is that service providers are deprived of their hard-earned money and the next thing is refusal to accept medical aid cards.

Many patients boast that they have US dollar schemes and they can access treatments everywhere, alas, their respective medical aid societies do not honour service providers’ claims.

Most medical aid societies became conflicted when they went into service provision as well with some of them commandeering their clients to the service providers of their choice.

The system went on for quite some time till the time of the dreaded Covid-19 when the same medical aid societies began to snub their very patients because they could not attend to Covid-19 patients.

 It was drama as prominent medical aid societies began shuffling their patients from one medical centre to another in search of admission beds, oxygen and Covid-19 care.

Covid-19 was associated with high risk as many healthcare workers succumbed to the heinous virus in their lines of duty.

Medical specialists, general practitioners, nurses, laboratory scientists died from the complications of Covid-19 infections which included respiratory distress syndrome, thrombo-embolism and renal failure.

Today, we are witnessing some briefcase medical aid societies who have no capacity to fund their clients but are only there for self-aggrandisement.

The fly-by-night health funders disappear when claims are made to them by service providers only to resurface when clients are to send their monthly premiums.

We have some medical aid societies that have stood the test of time and can deliver even when the economy is not as sound as expected.

Some medical aid societies are trying their best in this inflationary environment and prospective members should first do due diligence before joining some of the medical aid societies.

Patients should not be duped of their hard-earned money by unscrupulous medical aid societies that are merely after enriching their founders.

Medical practitioners are critical to clients who will be seeking to join a certain medical aid society.

There are many health organisations or associations that deal with medical aid societies on a daily basis.

Private medical practitioners send their claims to different medical aid societies either manually or electronically and they know better about the performance of specific medical aid societies.

The Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe is a collection of all private medical practitioners who include doctors, dentists, radiographers, nurse practitioners, ultra-sonographers who all deal with medical aid societies.

Many of the private practitioners know the bad apples in the medical aid basket.

Zimbabwe Medical Association is the umbrella body of all doctors that includes both public and private medical practitioners.

The practitioners have some background information of many of the medical aid societies.

It is, therefore, prudent to acquire relevant reference information from the stakeholders in the health sector before rushing to join some of the medical aid societies that have proven beyond doubt that they cannot deliver.

It is sad to hear that lately, some of the medical aid societies are busy raising monthly US dollar premiums by over 100%.

One wonders why a US dollar premium is increased by 100% at a time where foreign currency is a scarcity.

One wonders why such medical aid societies are operating willy-nilly at the detriment of patients who are further strangulated by the current economic meltdown.

How do patients feel if they come across a scenario where their premiums are increased and service providers demand cash upfront because of loss of confidence on health funders?

I have seen many holders of medical aid cards being denied treatment at many healthcare facilities because of unavailability of cash.

Patients should join reputable medical aid societies after doing due diligence. Fly-by-night societies should be treated with caution!

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