MedAid societies to cough up: Govt
Pamela Shumba Bulawayo Bureau
Government has allayed fears that doctors will demand cash upfront from patients on medical aid, saying it will ensure that medical aid societies pay service providers.
The Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) has said patients will from July 1 this year be required to pay doctors cash upfront and claim reimbursements from their medical aid societies.
Zima argued that doctors were paying tax to Zimra for claims that would not have been settled by medical aid societies and at times they were being forced to borrow to pay the taxman.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Aldrin Musiiwa acknowledged that medical aid societies were not paying doctors, but said Government would not allow patients to be disadvantaged.
“We won’t allow that to happen because it will disadvantage patients yet they’ve already paid. We’re chasing medical aid societies’ to pay up.
“The law requires doctors to render services to members of the public. When a patient produces a medical aid card, they’re expected to treat them and be paid by medical aid societies’ within a period of six months. If they don’t accept that they’re breaking the law,” said Musiiwa.
He said it was unfair for doctors to borrow money to pay their tax obligations.
“It’s a complicated situation that is being created by medical aid societies that are not honouring their obligations. Zimra is chasing doctors for tax yet they have not been paid.
“The only way we can solve this is to push the medical aid societies to pay up,” Dr Musiiwa added.
In January this year, there was an uproar after Zimra started garnishing doctors’ bank accounts for income tax payments at a time when they were owed by PSMAS.
Dr Musiiwa said he was hopeful that PSMAS would soon be able to pay its debts following the Government’s intervention.
“People should understand that PSMAS is not a government but a private institution. It’s just that a majority of its members are government employees, which is why the Government is concerned.
“There was serious abuse of funds but the government intervened,” said Musiiwa.
Recently, the Government threatened to cancel licences for medical aid societies who were not meeting their obligations, giving them a June 30 deadline.