Thursday, 27 June 2019

NEW DOCTORS FEES SHOCK FOR ZIMBABWEANS


Zimbabweans yesterday woke up to a new shocking fee structure for different health services provided by a group of specialist doctors with the new fees ranging from $900 to $3 750.

According to a circular by the National Physicians Association of Zimbabwe (NaPAZ), patients approaching any of the specialists for the first time at their rooms will now be charged ZW$1 800.

The doctors will also require a further ZW$1 050 from the same patient on his next visit for review.
  
If it is the specialist visiting the patient in a hospital facility, the patient will be required to pay ZW$1 800 for each visit the doctor pays for the first four days and ZW$1 200 from day five going forward.

Patients will only pay ZW$900 per day if they spend at least two weeks in admission.

However, patients with critical conditions such as those in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) will be required to pay ZW$3 750 for the doctor to attend to them for the first time.

From day two to day four, the same patient will be required to pay additional ZW$2 250 each day and ZW$1 500 each day from day five going forward. 

“In light of the recent announcement of SI 142 introducing the Zimbabwean dollar as the sole legal tender, the NaPAZ executive met today (26 June) and agreed on the following,

“To transition from the multi-currency based tariffs to Zimbabwe dollar based tariffs,” reads part of the circular from the specialists’ Association.

Although this new fee structure was said to be effective immediately, the Association slated Saturday July 6 as a day for a consultative meeting with its members.

Although the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) said they had not yet received any communication from the physicians, who are an affiliate of ZIMA, its secretary general Dr Sacrifice Chirisa said all medical doctors would be having their meeting on medical fees this Saturday.

“I cannot confirm nor deny that fee structure because physicians have their Association but are still an affiliate of ZiMA.

“We have not yet received that communication and our meeting on new fees is taking place this Saturday,” said Dr Chirisa. 

Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mrs Shylet Sanyanga said while some physicians seem to have implemented these new fees, some were still charging the old rates.

“There has not been any official communication to AHFoZ from the physicians. It is not clear how the fees have been derived considering that a doctors’ consultation does not require any import component,” said Mrs Sanyanga.

She said these fees were not affordable even for people on medical aid.

Mrs Sanyanga however said there were some physicians who were still accepting medical aid patients at reasonable rates.

“Members can contact their medical aid societies for advice,” said Mrs Sanyanga.

Community Working Group on Health executive director Mr Itai Rusike described the new tariffs as “shocking, unacceptably high and beyond the reach of many”.

He said if allowed to charge these fees, practically Zimbabweans would have been denied their right to health, which is enshrined in the national Constitution.

“With less than 10 percent of the country’s population on medical insurance, unemployment rate of over 85 percent and a majority of those that are employed earning less than ZW$1000, this means very few people will afford these consultation fees by physicians. Ultimately, people will die from home,” said Mr Rusike. 

Although no official comment could be obtained from the NaPAZ, information gathered by our Harare Bureau indicate that the new fee structure had been circulated to all NaPAZ members, some of whom were already implementing it.

Before abolishment of the multicurrency system by Government on Tuesday, the doctors were charging US$80 and US$50 for initial and review consultations.

The US dollar costs however translate to about RTGS$720 and RTGS$450 respectively using the parallel market rate of US$1:ZW$9.

Meanwhile, retailers have heeded the call by the Government of removal of the multi-currency regime and restricted domestic transactions to local currency in an effort to improve the affordability of goods and services by the majority.

Some shops, especially those run by Indians and Chinese operators, who were rejecting electronic payments are now accepting local currency payments. Chronicle

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