Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
In a move that is likely to see Government in a catch-22 situation, private doctors and other service providers resolved to postpone the June 30 deadline for accepting medical aid cards only if Government proceeds to revoke operating licences for all defaulting health funders as previously warned.
Most medical aid societies were given six months operating licences, which expire on June 30.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr Aldrin Musiiwa is on record warning all funders that their licences will not be renewed if they continue failing to meet their financial obligations to service providers.
But sources within the medical industry say 90 percent of medical aid societies were paying service providers well after the stipulated 60-day period, and those who were compliant were paying less than the gazetted tariff.
Zimbabwe has 31 medical aid societies, with an estimated 1,2 million people on health insurance.
In a statement released by the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) yesterday following their Friday meeting, the doctors reaffirmed their earlier position that with effect from July 1, 2016 they will no longer be accepting medical aid cards.
“Following a ZiMA national executive council consultation with its branches and affiliate medical specialists association representatives on Friday June 24, 2016 it was resolved that the ZiMA position remain but will be reviewed when there is clear evidence of progress from the regulator (The Minister of Health and Child Care) towards addressing key issues that were discussed on Monday June 20, 2016 in a meeting between the regulator, ZiMA, the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe and health funders (medical aid societies).
“ZiMA is grateful to the minister for the meeting and for agreeing to share the names of all health funders that the regulator would have been informed by health insurers to be compliant with the laws of the land and ready for registration by the 30th of June 2016,” said ZiMA in a statement.
This, according to the doctors, would provide them with a platform to provide evidence confirming compliance or non-compliance by the health funders.
“ZiMA will immediately revisit its position once the Minister of Health and Child Care (the regulator) has taken appropriate action on those health funders that remain non-compliant and continue to break the law,” said ZiMA.
The service providers which include specialist doctors, radiographers and radiotherapists also resolved that once the current impasse is solved, a medical aid card must only be considered valid if it is paid for within 60 days.
They also said, once presented, obligation for payment must also be transferred to the health insurer for it to be considered valid.
“The ZiMA reiterates that while this matter is being addressed, patients who are not able to pay cash are still going to be seen and will not be left to suffer. All patients will be stabilised and referred for further comprehensive care at public health institutions where they will be attended to by general medical doctors and specialist doctors who are mostly ZiMA members.”
The meeting was attended by the ZiMA national executive council, representatives from the Surgical Society of Zimbabwe, National Association of Physicians of Zimbabwe, College of Primary Health Care Physicians of Zimbabwe, Paediatric Association of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Association of Radiologists and Radiotherapists of Zimbabwe, Psychiatric Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Anaesthetic Association.