Doctors hike medical consultation fees | The Herald

via Doctors hike medical consultation fees | The Herald November 22, 2013 by Paidamoyo Chipunza  

Doctors have increased medical consultation fees by more than 100 percent from US$20 to US$50, while specialists are now charging up to US$120 from US$60, threatening the existence of medical aid societies which cannot cope with the increases. This has resulted in increased cases of patients on medical aid paying either a co-payment or incurring a shortfall after receiving treatment, affecting their access to health care.

Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa yesterday said the practitioners should wait for a gazetted tariff which is coming soon.

He said those increasing the tariffs were taking advantage of the absence of an agreed tariff.

Of late, medical aid societies and service providers were failing to come up with a common tariff that ensures people on medical aid access treatment without paying a co-payment or a shortfall.

“A lot of work with regards to medical tariffs have been done already and very soon we would be gazetting the new tariffs,” he said.

“Once gazetted, the tariffs will be legally binding and we expect everyone to comply.”

Minister Parirenyatwa said the new tariff would be favourable to both the practitioners and the medical aid societies.

“The gazetted tariffs will be based on striking a balance between medical aid societies and service providers,” he said. “They were also reached after wide consultations between both parties.”

Separate interviews conducted by The Herald yesterday showed that individual doctors were increasing tariffs without considering the plight of their patients.

Government ordered all service providers not to increase tariffs until it imposed the envisaged uniform tariff.

Zimbabwe Medical Association chairman of the national tariff liaison committee Mr Chad Tarumbwa confirmed the increases, saying the tariffs were actually set in April.

“You will realise that very few practitioners are charging that amount because they fear that medical aid societies will withdraw their members to their own clinics,” he said.

Mr Tarumbwa said ZiMA actually wanted the general practitioners to charge US$60 for the first visit and then US$40 for a review.

He claimed that the increases were necessitated by the increase in cost of living, but this is despite that official statistics show that inflation has remained low in the past four years, being recorded at 0,59 percent in October.

Mr Tarumbwa said the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ), an organisation for medical aid societies, wanted the tariffs to remain at US$20, but that had resulted in co-payments and shortfalls because of the increase in charges.

He said all along doctors and hospitals were guided by tariffs set by ZiMA at US$50 for consultation, while medical aid societies followed tariffs set by the AHFoz which were at US$20.

This meant that there was disagreement between the two bodies on the actual tariffs.

Although no official comment could be immediately obtained from AHFoZ yesterday, some medical aid societies insist that employees’ salaries were still too low to cater for an increase in tariffs.

They said they would have no choice but to increase the contributions if the doctors did not rescind the tariff increase.

This would add more burden to workers who are already failing to make ends meet in a country plagued by a liquidity crunch.

An official at Premier Service Medical Aid Society said the practitioners should reverse the increases.

“Charges by surgeons on procedures are exorbitant compared to other countries in the region,” said the PSMAS official.

“Medical costs of sending a member outside the country, including their accommodation and flights are actually cheaper than having the procedure locally.”

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 8
  • comment-avatar
    Washumba 8 years ago

    Bhola, Munkee(Monkey) Tu, Guti, Tabo,Takaota Joni

  • comment-avatar
    kenneth R nedziwe 8 years ago

    Dr PARIRENYATWA, you cant start talking about tariffs as if you have anything happening in the country.The majotity of people are not working or dont earn enough money to sustain them. Why dont you just pay the doctors(from Marange diamonds) for the work done on ALL patients except those who benefitted from the land grab and other state resources? In Australia all those that are disavantaged or dont have luxurious salaries are bulk billed by Drs including specialists and government squares the bills.

    • comment-avatar
      Hisexcellency 8 years ago

      BECAUSE HE DOESN’T CARE IF THEY LIVE OR THEY IF THEY DIE.

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    vukani madoda 8 years ago

    One really has to be sympathetic with the position the doctors find themselves in.There is next to no health service outside the private sector-what is left in the public sector is primary(basic) health care delivery.If you have a complex health problem,then the only care available will pretty much be in the private sector-ethics aside the pricing system will largely be a factor of supply and demand and to a limited extend value-for money dependent.Rigid government control will not work as it will eliminate the little good medical care that is left.The doctors themselves must be careful not to price themselves out of the market.The General practitioner on the whole would be most vulnerable to overpricing backlash and consumer resistance.The specialist doctors do sometimes make easy money from consultation fees where a diagnosis is clearcut and their real role is to provide subsequent therapy for which the patient will additionally be charged.Government though should still consider legislating for a number of reason:get GP’s to practice in groups rather than single handed as this effectively cuts admin/staffing costs.The government should also control the participation in Private work by foreign doctors who have been recruited specifically to work in the public sector and yet spend more time in the private sector neglectiong their public sector work requirements;this is not currently being fully enforced.Nurses and pharmacists should be trained so as to broaden the base of health providers:at the same time the scope of drugs available over the counter should be looked into and increased and in some instances specially trained nurses(specialist nurses) should be allowed to prescribe a range of drugs selected from a special nurse formulary to complement the doctors-this happens in advanced economies where there is even a much higher doctor/patient ratio than in Zim.We need legislation to support this.This can in many situations avoid patients having to folk out a hard earned $60 to consult a doctor only to be told all they need to buy is paracetamol syrup for their ill child.What is clearly questionable is why the fees charged locally are higher than the average charges in the region where the cost of living at worst is comparable.It is absurd to have a situation where foreign currency will end up being spent seeking treatment outside the country because the same treatment is more expensive locally-the doctors and government will need to have some conversation about that.If forex saving justified ethanol blending the same rings true of medical care.If doctors can’t regulate themselves,they should not blame anyone when they bring it upon themselves to being regulated from above.

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    Mr Mixed Race 8 years ago

    These doctors are crazy because their rates will be the highest in the world.The government should allow patients to buy on the counter mild antibiotics like in Botswana without a prescription then they will be out of market.In most cases a patient takes about 10-15 minutes in consultation with a doctor,this means that in an hour he makes 4x$60=$240,which is equal to somebody’s monthly salary.These Zimbabwean doctors have no compassion at all,they should visit India and learn from those doctors how they deal with their patients.When you join medical studies you do it for compassion reasons first not money.No foreign doctors should be allowed to have private surgeries.

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    Zvichapera 8 years ago

    Its so sad Zimbabwe has come to this, a total breakdown of life in this once a great nation. So sad, a service delivery in country that used to have the best, what a shame.

    • comment-avatar
      Boss MyAss 8 years ago

      INDIGENISATION. IN MUGABEHONA LANGUAGE MEANS, TOTAL DESTRUCTION.