Zimbabweans value funeral cover more than Medical Aid…Only 11 Percent Zimbabweans Have Medical Aid

The loss in value in the local currency to the greenback, has forced several Zimbabwean medical aid policyholders to terminate medical aid policies while some are resorting to removing some beneficiaries from cover as a survival strategy.

By Michael Gwarisa

These developments come at the back of revelations that a few Zimbabweans are currently under medical aid cover and yet, more people have up-to-date funeral policy coverage.

A study that was conducted by Finmark Trust and published by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) revealed that just 30 percent of adult Zimbabweans have any form of insurance and of those people who are insured, 82 percent have funeral insurance.

Speaking at the just-ended joint conference for the Community Pharmacists Association (CPA) and the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association (PWA) in Harare, Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Shylet Sanyanga said Zimbabweans prefer funeral cover to medical aid cover.

As AFHoZ we have 38 members, and Medical Aid covers approximately 11 percent of the population. We are also seeing stagnant membership growth. That 11 percent has been there for so many years and that is not good enough. We are seeing downgrading of membership packages because of costs or even removal of some dependents from medical aid,” said Ms Sanyanga.

In extreme cases, she said some members were terminating membership and resorting to out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure which is unbearable.

“Unfortunately in our society, not everybody values the importance of ensuring themselves. People value having a funeral cover. It is either one has a burial society cover from a community or has a proper funeral cover. It seems people value being buried decently rather than living a healthy lifestyle where you can get your medication and have a meaningful life.”

She added that members on RTGS Medical aid packages were paying more is shortfalls and at a Macro level, funders or medical aid societies especially those under public service, were struggling to make ends meet.

“We are seeing some of the funders especially those that are not entirely private, having to make do with sub-economic contributions despite actuarial recommendations to say contributions must be packed at such and such a level so that those contributions can cover the anticipated costs. Some big employer organizations maintain to enforce sub-economic contribution levels.
“We are seeing late payment of contributions, and in this environment where there is inflation, this then causes the loss of value on those funds and also it causes late claim settlement. Medical aid societies do not need to be convinced of the need to pay claims, they understand it but in many instances, the contributions are not being remitted on time and quite a number of them do not have adequate cash flows to pay the claims and in some instances backlog in claims that need to be settled,” said Ms Sanyanga.

She however said there has been an increase in claims for medications from Pharmacies over the years and this was an anomaly.

“Medications or drugs or pharmacies are claiming more for medications. I don’t know. Is it because people are sicker, or the medications are now more expensive? This was not the picture in the past when hospitals used to claim more than pharmacies. In the first quarter of 2022, US$3 Million was claimed during the first quarter of 2023.”

Meanwhile, Dr John Mangwiro, the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Health and Child Care said there was a need to address catastrophic out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure in Zimbabwe.

“There is a need for all players in the supply chain to lower costs to the end user. The current catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditure can only be addressed by all parties having a common goal of reducing costs across the supply chain,” said Dr Mangwiro.

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