The feud between doctors and medical aid societies is unlikely to end as the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) insists that doctors under its affiliation should stop accepting medical aid beginning next month.
ZIMA announced last month that its doctors will start demanding cash from 1 July, as they are owed large sums of money by medical aid societies for services offered to patients on medical aid.
ZIMA also said the decision comes after ZIMRA is taxing doctors for money accrued, some of which would not have been paid by medical aid societies.
With the government promising to chip in and solve the impasse between doctors and medical aid societies, hopes were high that Zimbabweans will not be forced to pay cash come 1 July.
However, with the date fast approaching, there are major doubts over a lasting solution after ZIMA insisted that it will stick with its earlier decision.
ZIMA President, Dr Agness Mahomva said they have not option, adding that what their doctors can only do is not to watch patients dying.
"When a patient visits a doctor with or without medical aid, doctors will stabilise them before referring them to a public hospital," said Dr Mahomva. Some medical aid societies however insisted that they are engaging stakeholders to resolve the impasse.
"We are currently engaging the doctors, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and other stakeholders to find the way forward," Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) Acting Managing Director, Dr Nicholas Munyonga said.
The non-payment of cash to doctors by medical aid societies has been a perennial issue, and Zimbabweans accuse the societies of not fulfilling their mandate.
Most people said a visit to doctors and other medical facilities is now a dreaded experience as many of them, despite making contributions, some over a number of years, are sceptical whether the money will be enough to meet their expenses.
"These medical aid societies are not offering us value for money. It is so unfortunate that after making contributions, a member can be told that they have no cover," said one Harare resident.
Whilst a visit for medical attention for conditions such as a cold may not be a cause for concern, there are other individuals who need more expensive procedures such as kidney dialysis, radiotherapy and physiotherapy.
Many individuals who have been unfortunate and require specialist treatment say medical aid has ceased to be an option.
Despite subscriptions to medical aid societies being one’s nest egg on a rainy day, the general consensus is that there is need to have a radical shift in order to provide much needed care to Zimbabweans, many of whom are grappling to make ends meet.