Wednesday, 15 July 2020

PSMAS SEEKS SUBSCRIPTIONS HIKE


Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) has proposed to increase member subscriptions by over 1 000 percent as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to plummet against major currencies, including the United States (US) dollar.

This comes as private medical practitioners and pharmacies have begun demanding shortfalls and co-payments beyond the reach of many long-suffering Zimbabweans, with some refusing to serve Psmas members.

Appearing before the Health and Child Care parliamentary portfolio committee, Psmas group chief executive officer (CEO) Farai Muchena said there was a need to allow the medical society to review its subscription fees on a regular basis in order to remain viable in the obtaining hyperinflationary environment.

“What we are saying here is that we need to have subscriptions that will enable us to be viable given the hyperinflationary environment that we are operating in. Currently, our subscriptions are not matching the claims that we are receiving. This then results in us failing to pay service providers, who in turn, start refusing to offer services to our members.

“This also results in the issue of shortfalls and co-payments that our members, the majority of whom are civil servants, are being subjected to as they seek medical services,” Muchena said.

“We understand that our members are not earning that much; their salaries are not increasing. However, even if the salaries are low, we cannot hide from the challenges we are facing. What we need is a review of the subscriptions to a point where we remain viable and are able to provide service to our members. The amounts that we are proposing are an indication of the kind of direction that we want to take,” he added.

Psmas last reviewed its subscription fees last year, which saw adult dependents paying $45 on the main plan, $60 on the premium plan and $75 on the pinnacle plan.

The medical aid society is now proposing that the subscriptions be pegged using the US dollar or equivalent to action system exchange rate, a move which will see adult dependants paying US$30 on the main plan, US$60 on the premium plan and US$90 on the pinnacle plan or the equivalent.

Psmas head of managed care Nickson Mapeza revealed that the medical aid society was failing to pay its service providers due to the low subscriptions.

“As Psmas, we have about 5 000 service providers and owing to the low subscriptions, we have been delaying payments. By the time we pay, the money will have lost value because of hyperinflation and this has affected the relationship we have with service providers. Many pharmacies have opted out because we were not paying them on time,” Mapeza said.

He added that owing to low subscriptions, some members with chronic illnesses were exhausting their benefits before year-end, thereby putting more pressure on the society.

“We have members on dialysis who exhaust their benefits before year-end due to hyperinflation. For example, last year their benefits were exhausted in August and this year they were exhausted in February. We then use our reserves, which are running out, to ensure that they continue receiving medical attention,” he said.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians called on Psmas to consider the plight of pensioners and not increase subscription fees for them.

“We have pensioners who are receiving poor funds to such an extent that they cannot afford the current subscription fees let alone the proposed figures. It is important that when you come up with these figures you consider this constituency and think about packages that are of a lesser fee,” Chinhoyi’s member of Parliament Peter Mataruse said. Daily News

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