New tariffs for medical aid

A new, scientifically determined tariff that will be paid to service providers by medical aid societies is ready for implementation.

A scientific study was submitted to the Ministry of Health and Child Care on May 7 this year as a key component of a strategy to end a decade-long dispute between medical aid societies and service providers.

The Medical Services Act of 2002 recognises only one of two medical tariffs at a time – either an agreed tariff (where concerned parties agree on a tariff), or a gazetted tariff (where the Health Ministry gazettes a tariff).

The Health Ministry, represented by Health Services Board executive chairp Dr Paulinus Sikhosana at the annual All-Stakeholders Conference on Health in Victoria Falls last week, said the scientific tariff could solve the current challenges.

“Now that the research on this has been completed, a meeting will be called as soon as possible to discuss the scientific tariff report. Thereafter, we expect that all stakeholders be guided by it,” said Dr Sikhosana.

“It’s our expectation that the tariff will not be allowed to become progressively distorted, as what happened with the previous agreed tariffs.”

In May 2014, Government pegged consultation fees for general practitioners at $35, up from $20, while fees for specialist services were hiked to $120 from $80.

However, the Association of Health Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) advised its members to pay $25 for initial consultation and $18 thereafter for review visits.

The association argued there was need to cushion medical aid subscribers from steep tariffs.

Government warned health funders to adhere to gazetted tariffs, with non-compliant entities facing loss of operating licenses.

Last week, AFHoZ chief executive officer Mrs Shylet Sanyanga said they are looking forward to the new tariff.

“The purpose of the scientific study was to recalibrate the tariffs, as their relativity had been lost over the years,” explained Mrs Sanyanga.

“Once the formal handover has taken place and the (Health) Minister has given the nod, stakeholders will then be in a position to use the report as an authentic reference point.”

Initially, the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) leadership agreed in principle to the scientific study and asked for time to consult its membership.

However, they failed to raise funds for the scientific study, and AFHoZ resolved to go ahead with it.

Consultations were made with both the Health Ministry and ZiMA, and the study ran for three months starting July 1, 2017.

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