Furore over hike in medical specialists’ fees


HARARE – The increase in Zimbabwean medical specialists’ tariffs prejudices patients from enjoying the full benefits of medical cover, a senior medical official has said.

The 43 percent increase in tariffs implemented by Zimbabwean medical specialist in April enormously affected patients and their medical aid benefits, Cimas managing director Roderick Takawira said.

“In April specialists put their tariffs up by 43 percent and that hit the medical aid society hard,” he said. “As a medical aid society, our claim loss ratios were at 102 percent meaning that for every dollar we received, we were paying out $1, 02.

“And our members seeing specialists had increased and with the results of the claims loss ratio as a medical aid society we could not survive.”

Takawira said patients’ medical aid benefits have been hit harder.

“Take for an example a hip replacement. Regionally, this operation costs between $4 000 to 6 000 and yet in Zimbabwe specialist in this area will charge $18 000, which hits hard on the medical cover,” he said.
Many patients complained to the Daily News about the exorbitant fees. 

Cherish Shesha said: “I had an operation done on my toe recently and it cost $780 after Cimas only agreed to pay part of the bill.”

Manase Gwanzura said: “My son’s legs are giving him problems and the visit to a specialist has cost me dearly. And the health system has really stretched me.”

Cynthia Chiwaya:  “I tore my tendon muscle on my ankle, and after my operation I incurred a shortfall of about $1 500.”

User fees have had a tremendous impact on health outcomes in Zimbabwe. According to the country’s 2010-2011 demographic health survey, eight women die every day of pregnancy-related causes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that in 2010, 570 Zimbabwean mothers died for every 100 000 who gave birth.

In a 2007 issue of the influential United States-based international relations magazine Foreign Affairs, Pulitzer Prize-winning health author Laurie Garret writes: “Maternal mortality data is said to be an important indicator of overall health system quality because pregnant women survive in sanitary, safe, well-staffed and stocked facilities.”

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