Medical insurers hold meeting on impasse

HARARE - The Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoz) will hold a public meeting on Friday to address doctors’ declarations that they will no longer accept patients with medical insurance due to insurers owing them $220 million.

The meeting, announced yesterday by the under-fire AHFoz, comes as proposed legislation known as Medical Aid Societies Bill, designed to address failure to pay or delay payments to doctors, is being tabled in Parliament. Language in the bill is adding pressure on the health agency to settle its obligations and relax its guidelines.

Efforts to change the rules gained steam after privately practicing medical doctors in July indicated they will not be accepting health insurance or medical aid cards from their patients until further notice.

AHFoz said it was inviting to a public meeting members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and representatives of the Health and Child Care ministry, employers, employees, consumers, hospitals, doctors and other health service professionals, as well as its members.

“A panel, which will include representatives of some of the key stakeholders, will lead discussions on the ministry of Health and Child Care’s proposal to establish, by an Act of Parliament, a regulatory authority for medical aid societies,” AHfoz said in a statement.

“The proposal for establishing an authority to regulate medical aid societies follows the continued impasse between medical aid societies and health service providers over tariffs and allegations earlier this year that some medical aid societies had failed to consistently pay healthcare providers on time.

“There has been no agreement between healthcare funders and service providers on tariffs for more than a decade.”

AHFoz said the Act should protect interests of the parties involved, particularly medical aid societies and their members.

“It would like to see the annual licensing of medical aid societies revisited, due to the uncertainties that annual registration creates, with robust supervisory structures being put in place instead to ensure all stakeholders are protected and signs of distress are identified at an early stage. It suggests this could be achieved through off-site or on-site examinations to ensure a medical aid society’s viability,” the statement read.

“In a position paper sent to those it has invited to Friday’s ...meeting, AHFoZ proposes that members of the authority should include representatives of medical aid societies’ and healthcare providers’ associations. Any healthcare practitioners appointed to the authority should, it says, be retired non-practising individuals.”

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