Abuse of patients forces govt to amend law regulating Medical Aid Societies

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By Audience Mutema

RAMPANT abuse of patients and collusion among health practitioners as well as institutions has pushed government to seek amendments to the law regulating the operations of medical aid societies, Parliament has heard.

Health Minister Health Obadiah Moyo recently told Parliament that government will be amending the Medical Aid Societies Act in order to curb abuse of patients who are forced to get treatment from selected institutions by practitioners who reject particular health insurance policies.

Moyo was responding to Mberengwa legislator Alum Mpofu who wanted to know what government was doing to protect patients forced by health practitioners and medical aid societies to be treated by specific doctors or institutions.

“I think this is a very important question indeed. We do not want medical aid societies who self refer patients. What has been happening is that you find a medical aid society will not pay if a patient does not go to their facility where there are service providers as well.

“This is why we are now coming up with a Bill for this Parliament to consider and ensure that does not happen again. If you are a CIMAS member or a PSMAS member, they insist that you should just go to their facilities which is medical terms, medical ethics unacceptable, totally unacceptable,” said Moyo in response.

“That is what we refer to as merger referral. Normally a doctor cannot refer their patient to their own other services.”

The Health Minister added that his ministry is working tirelessly to end that malpractice.

“That is what we have to put a stop to and the Medical Aid Societies Bill will ensure that we cut this off completely.

“Thank you very much to the MP for bringing that up and it is something which we will move with vigour,” he said.

“Right now, the Bill is with the Attorney General’s Office and being finalised and it should be with the Parliamentary Legal Committee shortly. Generally, it is not allowed, it is unethical and it should not be practised.”