Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government, in partnership with health insurers and medical doctors, has embarked on a process to ascertain the actual cost of medical services in Zimbabwe to address the impasse that has existed between them and service providers for several years. In a recent interview, Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mrs Shylet Sanyanga said the process which started at the beginning of July was expected to take about two months.

“What we want to achieve is a tariff that is relevant to the economic environment, must be affordable in terms of the ability of the members to pay subscriptions against the cost of running a practice by a service provider,” said Mrs Sanyanga.

She said current costs of medical care were not based on any evaluation but were just put in place at the onset of dollarisation and most of them were distorted.

“We are finding that our cost of healthcare are generally higher than anywhere else in the region so we think if we are able to carry out this research we will be able to adjust accordingly so that we will all have one set of tariff that is not disputed,” said Mrs Sanyanga.

Director for policy development and planning in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Mr Stephen Banda confirmed the development saying Government was interested in understanding the actual cost of medical services.

“This study is of interest because it will inform us whether current costs are under-priced or overpriced considering the current economic environment,” said Mr Banda. Although no immediate official comment could be obtained from the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA), sources close to the happenings said although they were represented at a meeting held at the Ministry of Health to introduce the consultant who would be carrying out the research, they were not keen to support the process.

“Service providers are arguing that there is no guarantee that health insurers will respect this new tariff when they have already failed to respect current laws and regulations governing their operations. So they are not keen on spending money on this process,” said one of the sources.

Health Insurers and service providers had for long been at loggerheads over costing of medical procedures with the former claiming that the country’s healthcare services were overpriced, resulting in members exhausting their cover limits quickly and failing to access medical care when they need it most.

On the other hand, service providers argue that medical aid societies were not honouring current legislation such as paying for services rendered to their members within the stipulated 60 day period. Zimbabwe’s medical tariffs are arguably the highest in the region with some patients opting to receive treatment in countries such as South Africa and India.

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