PATIENTS will, from July 1 this year, pay cash upfront after doctors announced yesterday they will stop accepting medical aid. Doctors accuse the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) of taxing them for claims that have not yet been honoured by medical aid societies.
The doctors say patients must now pay cash upfront and claim reimbursements from medical aid societies.
Dr Shingi Bopoto, the Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) secretary general, yesterday said doctors were being forced to borrow money to settle tax obligations for money that they have not received.
“Medical aid societies are breaking the law. They’re supposed to pay doctors for services rendered to their members. They’re also obligated by law to pay doctors at prescribed rates depending on their levels. A good number of insurers aren’t doing that and it’s seriously affecting doctors,” Dr Bopoto said.
“Zimra charges tax on money accrued to doctors, whether they’ve been paid or not. Due to non-payment by health insurers, doctors have to borrow money to pay their tax obligations. This isn’t a sustainable situation. No doctor or service provider can afford that.”
“That will be the arrangement until the regulator, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, forces medical aid socities to pay doctors. Some health insurers force patients to use their clinics and charge shortfalls if they don’t. This is illegal. We’ve since taken the matter to the Competition and Tariff Commission.
“We’ve also taken the matter to Parliament and the Health Ministry and we hope it’ll be given due attention.”
The doctors say some medical schemes owe them money from as far back as 2009.
Both Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa and his Permanent Secretary Gerald Gwinji could not be reached for comment yesterday as they were said to be out of the country.
Recently, the government threatened to cancel licences for medical aid societies who were not meeting their obligations, giving them a June 30 deadline. Last year, PSMAS instructed more than 30 health providers to demand cash from its members.
PSMAS said then the move was aimed at preventing its debt to health service providers from ballooning and to avoid further litigation. As at May 2015, PSMAS was facing about $8 million in litigation, with some of the claims dating back to December 2014.
The health insurer’s problems have been largely blamed on huge salaries which were being awarded to ousted chief executive officer Cuthbert Dube and other executives.
Dube was taking more than $500,000 home in salary and allowances each month.