Medical Aid Societies Raise Fees – ZimEye

Medical Aid Societies Raise Fees

Zimbabweans seeking health care will have to pay more for health insurance, as medical aid societies have increased dues in recent months for members paying in local currency.

Some plans have increased contributions by more than 100% for businesses and individuals.

Although some medical aid societies have yet to revise membership dues, patients have had to shell out extra money to cover shortfalls.

A circular from the Bon Vie medical aid scheme indicates that contributions will be increased from April 1, 2021.

“The cost of healthcare has continued to rise due to pressures from rising medical inflation, layers of additional costs due to Covid-19 and exchange rate fluctuations.

“It is in this context that your medical aid scheme is instituting a marginal upward revision to the contribution for Zim dollar packages,” the statement said.

Bon Vie said the move was intended to realign their payments and benefits with prevailing healthcare costs and demands, but also with the affordability aspect in mind.

For members who contribute under corporate plans, the cheapest plan is now set at $413 instead of $200 for adults and children. The Mukwa lite plan is now priced at $2,339 for adults and $1,415 for kids starting at $1,113 and $673 respectively.

First Mutual Health also increased membership fees in February this year, citing the alignment of service charges with the prevailing auction rate.

“In response to this development, the fund has adopted the AFHOZ scientific tariffs which are indexed to the auction tariff. Prices for our standard plan are below sustainable levels and the review is necessary to maintain benefit value and reduce incidents of shortfall,” the plan said in a statement earlier this year.

First Mutual Health said that after the review of premiums and benefits, it was still in a transitional phase of aligning premiums and benefits with its members’ claims pattern.

This indicates that dues are expected to increase further this year.

“We are aware of the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on business operations and the livelihoods of individuals.

“The rates have been structured to strike a balance between affordability for our members and ensuring that the plan continues to provide meaningful benefits in line with prevailing market conditions,” First Mutual said.

The program has nearly doubled the cost of its packages with enterprise packages for adults like the Ruby Plane Shooting at $4,350 starting at $3,038 and $2,250 for children starting at $1,414.

The Chief Executive of the Donors Association of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ), Ms Shylet Sanyanga, says medical aid societies failed to make the applicable revisions to contributions when the country abandoned the use of the dollar US, hence the continued upward revisions.

“When the country switched from using the US dollar to the Zimbabwean dollar, medical aid societies did not convert the contributions to dollars applicable at the time based on the exchange rate.

“This would have resulted in sudden and steep increases in membership dues. On the other hand, many health service providers kept their charges in US dollars and they applied the parallel exchange rate for conversion,” she said.

She said this mismatch in conversion rates led to the shortfalls that patients were being asked to pay at the point of service.

“Medical Aid Societies are adjusting premiums to try to catch up with health care provider rates, to reduce or eliminate the deficit gap. Most medical aid contribution rates are lower than they were in the US dollar era, while healthcare costs have been kept at their previous US dollar levels,” Ms Sanyanga said. – The Herald