By Darlington Gatsi
A local think tank, Free Enterprise, has written to Parliament seeking to bring normalcy to the beleaguered Premier Service Holding Company (PSHC), which is struggling to meet the health costs of its broad clientele.
PSHC is a parent company of Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) which caters for all civil servants in providing health services.
Government covers 80% of PSMAS subscriptions for each of its employees under the medical scheme.
PSMAS has been reduced to a reject by health institutions due to late payments, further piling misery on the civil servants who require services.
In rare occasions when they are received, clients are made to pay shortfalls, preferably in foreign currency.
In a letter addressed to Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare, Dr Ruth Labode, Free Enterprise Chairman, Brian Sedze, said the inability of PSMAS to meet its obligations to civil servants could send it into insolvency.
“We bring to the attention of parliament through your committee the inability of civil servants to access medical care over the past eight months despite being subscribers to PSMAS, a medical aid society.
“There is a lot wrong with such a situation, which causes family distress, disturbs the family economic ecosystem, increases unnecessary borrowings and is often the reason avoidable deaths occur. We believe it’s also a country security risk factor.
“We hope you shall bring the executive arm of government to account so that they put correct corrective actions, summon Premier Service Holding Company directors and Executives to explain themselves and proffer solutions, and ensure civil servants who subscribe to PSMAS receive relief in the shortest possible time.
“PSMAS is in critical care and it may tilt into insolvency and compound suffering of nearly a million people who are subscribers and members” Brian Sedze said.
PSHC workers in April downed tools, declaring incapacitation and the failure of the company to meet their demands.
Last month PSMAS workers committee was disrupted by anti-riot police in Harare from holding its annual general meeting where deliberations on their grievances were to be addressed.
Sedze said the funding model of PSMAS should be re-looked into in the face of economic challenges that wipe out the subscriptions.
“It often takes years for the government and the regulator to approve subscription increases. If and when government and the regulator decide to approve the new fees they would have been eroded by inflation.
“In my considered view, the medical aid society must be allowed to balance subscription fees to be affordable but sustainable. The fees must be within a reasonable standard deviation of other societies and funds. Government must reduce interference with auctorial estimation and its nexus to fees,” he said.