Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Former Finance Minister Dr Christopher Kuruneri, who is in and out of hospital for stroke and hypertension, has taken a local health insurance company to the High Court seeking an order compelling the institution to timeously authorise his treatment and payment for his medication whenever the need arises.
Dr Kuruneri, who is also a lawyer, has a health insurance agreement with Alliance Health, but the firm has been employing delaying tactics in authorising his treatment and at times has “unlawfully refused to pay the bills”.
In his court papers, Dr Kuruneri indicated that he disclosed his condition at the signing of the agreement and that trying to raise the issue whenever a bill was raised, was a deliberate attempt to breach the contract and to avoid paying.
To that end, Dr Kuruneri, through Kuruneri Law Practice, on Friday filed summons at the High Court seeking an order compelling Alliance Health to pay for the medical bills always, without delay.
“It is clear that the continuous unreasonable refusal and subsequent payment by defendant has caused financial uncertainty and makes a farce of the insurance agreement entered into between plaintiff and defendant,” reads the plaintiff’s declaration.
“Plaintiff is a stroke patient who will need medical attention and scrutiny in a timely and human manner, whose rights according to the insurance agreement, are prejudiced and at the mercy of the defendant’s unfair and delaying tactics of bringing up a pre-existing condition whenever plaintiff is concerned, even where such has not been established.”
The lawyers argued that Dr Kuruneri deserved to have some amount of certainty and predictability when it came to the payment of his bills.
On July 29 2010, Dr Kuruneri and Alliance Health entered into the health insurance agreement in which the politician declared the pre-existing condition of hypertension.
Dr Kuruneri suffered a stroke on February 4, 2012 and was taken to the Avenues Clinic in Harare where he was hospitalised for two weeks.
Alliance covered all the costs. On August 20 2014, Dr Kuruneri was again hospitalised at St Anne’s Hospital, but Alliance Health refused to pay the bill on the basis that it was a pre-existing condition that had brought him to hospital.
“St Anne’s upon defendant’s declining to pre-authorise the payment, then demanded $10 000 upfront from plaintiff’s wife, (Mrs) Paidamoyo Kuruneri in order to continue treatment, reads the declaration.
A month later, Mrs Kuruneri received a call from Alliance Health confirming that the insurance company had now decided to pay St Anne’s bill.
In June 2015, Dr Kuruneri also had a tough time with Alliance Health when he was admitted at St Anne’s Hospital for “malignant hypertension and seizures” treatment.
In May 2016, Alliance Health refused to pay for the medical bill when he was admitted at AMI Hospital in Harare. Upon a request for payment, the company later made a U-turn, apologised and agreed to settle to the bill.
Alliance Health is yet to respond to the summons.