Sunday, 26 June 2016


MEDICAL doctors are insisting on cash upfront from patients come Friday as the tiff with health insurers continues to rumble. 

As the standoff between doctors and medical aid societies escalates, it is also understood that the Government will not renew licenses for defaulting medical aid societies after the June 30 deadline. Medical aid societies are regulated by the Minister of Health and Child Care under the Medical Services Act. The minister monitors medical aid societies’ activities, including the execution of their fiduciary responsibility and their financial performance.

The majority of medical aid societies were issued with temporary operating licenses after they failed to remit claims to service providers within the expected 60-day period. The temporary licenses issued by Government are valid for six months as a measure to improve compliance and observance of the stipulated regulations.

An official from Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) who declined to be named for professional reasons said, “Medical doctors are not backing down on the decision to demand cash upfront from patients with effect from July 1.

“The regulator promised us that they won’t be renewing licenses for defaulting medical aid societies. And we can only withdraw our ultimatum when the regulator keeps its word.”
Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (Ahfoz) chief executive, Mrs Shylet Sanyanga refused to comment saying there was an engagement process underway to resolve the issue.

In January this year, Zimra garnished doctors’ bank accounts for income tax payments at a time when they were being owed about US$200 million by most medical aid societies.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa is said to have stepped in to resolve a potential crisis by writing a letter to Zimra asking for relaxation of tax requirements on doctors.

ZiMA president Dr Agnes Mahomva said, “In the meantime Zimra, acting in accordance with the laws of the land, is demanding payment from medical doctors on amounts that the doctors invoiced the health insurers but have never received, and may never receive.”
In response, Zimra’s legal and corporate services director, Ms Florence Jambwa defended the garnishing of doctors’ accounts.

“Doctors are business people who earn income either on accrual (credit) or on receipt (cash) basis. When they submit their returns for assessment, they declare their total income both accrued and received. The total income is taxed notwithstanding that they may not have received the amount due from medical aid societies,” she explained.

Ms Jambwa said garnishee orders were a last resort to collect the tax. About 1, 2 million people are on medical aid provided by 31 health insurers.sunday mail


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