MEDICAL Aid coverage among Zimbabweans as of last year must have dropped from the previous figure of 10 percent owing to the continued economic decline greatly reducing citizens’ capacity to spend and invest towards their healthcare.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
The Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) issued new pricing guidelines in November last year to cushion members against huge co-payments and shortfalls. The adjusted rates have prompted members to either downgrade packages or drop health insurance completely.
Responding to HealthTimes, Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mrs Shylet Sanyanga said the coverage should be around nine percent.
“It’s not less than eight percent though not above 10 percent,” she said.
However, CIMAS Group chief executive Mr Vulindlela Ndovu suggests that coverage could be less than eight percent.
“It’s way less than eight percent. So that is a problem. Because what we are saying is the bulk of the people should then be covered by the public sector but we know where we are now with the public sector,” he said.
Parliamentarians on the other end are worried over the low coverage of Zimbabweans by medical aid companies which officially stands at 10 percent while almost everyone in the country has a funeral insurance.
On the issue of the 10 percent coverage, AHFoZ board member Mr Keith Nkomo giving oral evidence on the state of medical insurance coverage to parliamentarians last year said it was about the affordability of healthcare that has seen them coverage that number.
“The other issue is covering 10 percent of the population. I think it’s an issue we have been battling with over time but I think it speaks to the cost of health care in the country. It speaks to affordability of citizens themselves. And we find ourselves covering only ten percent.
He said the issue of patients defaulting payment also comes into play thus making healthcare services a preserve and privilege for the rich.
“We introduced informal products across the society that are as low as three dollars, as low as six dollars as the chairman said but it’s the ability of member to continue paying for this over time.
“Where medical has now been relegated to a luxurious component chair. It’s a sorry state. It’s no longer a right but probably a luxurious kind of procedure,” said Mr Nkomo.
About 90 percent of civil servants are covered by the Premier Services Medical Aid Society. However given the high unemployment rates the company recently launched low cost products targeting the informal sector.
Still, this huge gap in medical cover can be bridged by the much awaited National Health Insurance Scheme. Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo assured that the long overdue National Health Insurance scheme should be operational come 2020.
The Health Minister said they were impressed with what the consultant they hired crafted.
“We already have a consultant who did the document. It’s been reviewed by the Ministry and it has been accepted. What’s left now is for it to be presented to Cabinet,” he said.
He added that an inter-ministerial team will be formed to produce a final document.
“Once it has been approved, we will have an inter-ministerial team who will work flat out to come out with the final document and the bill for presentation to parliament. There has to be a bill, it just can’t be an ordinary insurance,’ Minister Moyo said.
Minister Moyo said they expect to have the NHI by end of 2020.
“The Health Insurance Scheme should be availed in 2020, end of 2020. These things take time. There has to be wide consultations,” he said.
The Health Minister said they were financially supported by the European Union for drafting the NHI document.
“The consultant did their job and they are gone. It was a tender and then a consultant was identified. They were paid for. They came through the French. So it comes through the EU support,” he said.
The National Health Insurance scheme ensures health services are accessible and affordable to citizens.