Govt urged to closely monitor medical aid societies

The Community Working Group on Health has urged the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to closely monitor medical aid societies to ensure contributors are not prejudiced.

The call follows recent revelations that the Chief Executive Officer at Premier Service Medical Aid Society, Cuthbert Dube, was earning a salary and benefits of around $500, 000 a month at a time PSMAS was failing to meet its obligations to contributors, the majority of whom are government employees.

In a press statement, CWGH expressed concern that PSMAS was awarding lofty benefits to its top executives at the expense of poor contributors struggling to pay monthly medical insurance contributions.

The group called on the health and finance ministries to audit operations of medical aid societies so as to protect the interests of contributors.

CWGH suggested that all medical aid societies should focus on their core business of medical insurance provision not turning themselves into medical health providers.

PSMAS, through its subsidiary, Premier Medical Aid Investments, is providing medical support to the former’s subscribers.

“The system where the medical insurance providers have become medical health providers is subject to abuse and such monopolistic tendencies by medical insurance companies might eventually lead to the destruction of a smooth private and public health system in the country,” says the CWGH statement.

CWGH Executive Director, Itai Rusike, said the Medical Services Act regulated the operations of the medical societies, yet it was not being enforced.

He said there were concerns about the widespread PSMAS monopoly on health service provision in certain towns and cities, after other private health service providers were muscled out.

“In the event PSMAS collapses, the public health system would struggle to cope as a result of the prevailing monopoly,” Rusike said.

CWGH threw its weight behind the decision to relieve Dube of his duties and called for the extension of the measures taken to other PSMAS board members, to allow thorough investigations.

The group recommended that the whole PSMAS management be sent on forced unpaid leave until a probe has been finalised.

CWGH is a network of civic and community based organisations which aim to collectively enhance community participation in health interventions in Zimbabwe.

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