Medical doctors in Zimbabwe have announced that patients interested in medical attention in the country will from henceforth pay cash as doctors have declined accepting medical insurance.
President of the Zimbabwe Medical Association Dr. Sarah Mahomva said insurers owe them over $220 million.
“Doctors see patients, they accept medical aid cards but a number of times they are either not paid or paid way after sixty days or they get paid a very little amount which is not in line with the gazetted fees.
Unfortunately, when they do get the little that they get or they invoice the medical funders that do not pay they them” she said.
The country has more than 20 registered health insurers with about 800,000 members.
Most doctors in Zimbabwe run private practices and some also put in hours at private and state hospitals.
Government-run hospitals, used by the majority of Zimbabweans, often lack basic medicines and specialist doctors and are largely shunned by patients on health insurance.
Economic analyst, Nelson Banya believes the current situation is likely to get worse if the economy does not improve.
“What we are likely to see is a further deepening of the crisis like I said and the whole system will grind to a halt because all this is playing out at a time when the country is going through a massive cash crisis,” he added.
“I don’t have money but I have a patient on medical aid who urgently needs to see a doctor, so if they are going to refuse medical aid I don’t know what I will do,” said an unnamed Harare resident.
Zimbabwe is trying to emerge from years of international isolation, largely blamed on the government’s policies.
The worst drought since 1992 has left four million people in the country hungry.