New Medical Aid Bill Shuts Out Players From Board

By Michael Gwarisa

THE Association for Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) has bemoaned the proposed draft bill for medical aid operators for denying health funders and medical aid societies a place on the the regulatory board.

In a presentation on the draft Medical Aid Societies Bill during a consultative meeting hosted today (Monday) by the Ministry of Health and Child Care,  AHFoZ criticised the fact that the draft Bill gave health funders no voice in the constitution of the board and no representation on it.

On the other hand health practitioners were given three representatives on the proposed board. It suggested there would be a conflict of interest in having service providers, all of whom have an interest in decisions made by medical aid societies, dominating the board directly or indirectly.

“It (a medical aid society) should not force members to use its own facility. There is, however, no justification for prohibiting it from making a recommendation or giving an  inducement in a manner that any competitor would,” it said.

The association also argued that medical aid societies should not be barred from recommending that its members use its own services, hospital or specialist medical units.

It also argued against annual registration renewal of existing funders, saying this created uncertainty in the  organisations.

It said the draft Bill did not create a lasting solution to the problem of fraudulent claims or offer solutions to the failure of employers to remit contributions to medical aid societies on time or at all.

AHFoZ pointed out that the proposed regulatory authority would be costly to run and suggested the number of board members should be reduced.

Deregistration of a medical aid society should be done in terms of a court order, unless the society agreed to the deregistration, it said.

It said that, the proposed Bill did not leave room for service level agreements.

It proposed that the Bill should acknowledge the existence of AHFoZ and its residual regulatory powers already in existence in a number of areas.

The Secretary for Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji, invited AHFoZ and other medical aid society representatives to propose amendments to sections of the draft Bill they thought could be improved on.

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