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Medical practitioners propose steep US$ charges

by Staff reporter
31 Jan 2019 at 10:13hrs | Views
Zimbabweans should brace for new tariffs from the medical practitioners after a leaked document showed proposed charges pegged in United States dollars.

The document, which was widely circulated on social media platforms, had a list of proposed tariffs, with initial consultation fees to a general practitioner pegged at US$35 (or equivalent) and subsequent visits at US$30. At current rates, that would amount to slightly above $100 in bond notes or electronic transfer.

A visit to the dentist, if the tariffs are approved, would be pegged at US$30, while paediatricians would charge a consultation fee of US$100 and US$70 for reviews.

Consulting a gynaecologist would cost US$50, while orthopaedics and general surgeons would charge US$80.

The Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) said the organisation was still consulting with its membership on the proposed tariffs.

In a statement, Zima secretary-general Sacrifice Chirima said the new recommendations would be communicated officially.

"Consultations are underway regarding tariffs and once the Zima national tariffs and liason committee consolidates all recommendations from branches and affiliate associations as well as concludes negotiations with AHfoZ [Association of the Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe], it will communicate the agreed tariffs," he said.

Meanwhile, other stakeholders have expressed grave concern over the proposed new tariffs.

"The proposed new tariff system opens the door for a cash payment that will inevitably increase in size annually defeating the point of prepayments to medical aid," said Community Working Group on Health director Itai Rusike.

He said the new tariff in US$ would increase the barriers to accessing health services.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo, responding to Marondera Central MP Caston Matewu during a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly yesterday, said the charging of US$ by health practitioners and facilities was part of the multi-currency regime and Parliament had no objection when the issue was previously discussed.

"Because that is the reality, we said it is not going to be legally possible for us to challenge anyone coming forward and presenting their invoice in US$," he said.

Moyo said government would, however, also want the practitioners to charge in real time gross settlement (RTGS) and accept medical aid cards.

"My ministry is moving in line with real times and we want a situation whereby our medical aid societies pay practitioners in real time. This is because a lot of medical aid societies take long to pay them," he said. "I have set up a team to scrutinise issues of payment in US$."

Moyo said government was making efforts to strengthen the National Pharmaceuticals to enable it to procure drugs and that, at the moment, a team had been set up in India to facilitate a process of buying drugs at a lower premium.

"We are waiting for $25 million worth of medicine from India and plan on opening pharmacies which will sell medicines in low prices and in RTGS and swipe," he said.

Source - newsday