Psmas turnaround on course

HARARE - Zimbabwe's oldest healthcare funder, Premier Service Medical Aid Service (Psmas) says its turnaround strategy is now bearing fruit.

The group’s managing director,  Tendai Kapunha said the healthcare funder, which was established in 1930 and is currently battling legacy debts of up to $300 million, is now on its feet after implementing new policies and restructuring the organisation.

“We are currently making surpluses, the only thing is that we are trying to cover the hole left by historical debts,” he said, adding that the company is optimistic the new government will help address the debts.

Psmas has until recently been under fire from its members for dearth of quality service at medical facilities when using the company’s card.

Kapunha, who is a trained engineer, said the Psmas card is now achieving 90 percent acceptability rate up from 50 percent more than a year ago.

He added that despite a rise in health inflation and stagnant subscriber base he was confident of ensuring that Psmas bottom line remains healthy in the long-term.

“Any turnaround process goes through failure, and when you have failed, someone needs to stabilise you,” Kapunha said during a tour of the company’s new client service centre in Harare.

“Over the past one-and- half to two years, we focused on putting new policies and ensure that people adhered to them, and obviously initiating the journey to culture change . . . and restructuring the whole organisation ensuring that we ventilate it,” he said.

Last year, Zimbabwe’s largest medical aid service provider generated $242 million from subscription down from $250 million in 2016 with much of the money — 70 percent –— coming from subscriptions.

The new Psmas service centre, which is a one-stop-shop service facility, offers members a number of services ranging from payments, card replacements, new applications processing, and health and fitness services.

This comes as Psmas recently launched a lifestyle programme which it says will save the country up to $2 billion in health costs in the next five years.

The “Premier Lifestyle” is a response to the effects of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which have been identified as a major consumer of productive time and cause of death due to modifiable lifestyle risk factors such as lack of physical activity, poor diet, risky behaviours such as smoking and high alcohol intake as well as stress.

With a local market share of over 70 percent by membership, Psmas said the programme which teaches their membership on good living practices will most importantly, cause no side effects to patients as opposed to other medical remedies.

This, the group said, is a response to an increase in the burden from these conditions on its membership, which has also affected members’ employers and consequently resulted in increased healthcare costs.

“In 2016, for example, private medical aid funders, which cover only 10 percent of the population, spent over $250 million on the treatment of NCDs, mainly cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and mental health illnesses.

“There are also economic costs related to absenteeism and poor productivity as a direct result of NCDs,” the company said.
— The Financial Gazette

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