The government was forced to step in to set a fee for private doctors because the doctors and medical aid societies had failed to reach an amicable figure on their own, the Deputy Minister of Health Paul Chimedza said.
The government recently set the consultation fee for private doctors at US$35 up from US$20.
Chimedza said private doctors wanted between US$80 and US$90 for consultation while medical aid societies insisted that they could not pay more than US$20.
He said that this was untenable because doctors had not been reviewed their fee since dollarisation in 2009 yet medical aid societies had increased their subscription fees several times.
"As a Ministry, we took what medical aid societies were proposing, which was an increment by a dollar when they have raised their fees with a percentage, I do not know. The doctors have also given us a fee that they wanted. So, we rationalised these figures and came up with the figures that we have put on the table so that we do not lose our key professionals," Chimedza said.
"Currently, most of the doctors that are working in government are getting very little from the government because we do not have the capacity to pay them adequately and their practice is what is keeping them in this country. If we kill that, we have no professionals in this country. Therefore, we have a lot to balance; it is not just raising fees. It is maintaining the professionals that we have."
Chimedza said that medical aid was an insurance concept so those that are well subsidise those that are sick.
He told Ruth Labode that while she was a very strong advocate for medical aid societies, they had been raising their fees for the past four years without corresponding increments to the people that actually provided services.
"We have seen what has happened with the Premier Services Medical Aid Society that you have mentioned. Instead of giving the service providers that benefit the patient, they have been giving themselves $500 000. We are not going to allow the hospitals, the doctors and nurses to subsidise medical aid societies. They collect money from the patient and they should remit to where the service is being provided. That is what we are saying."
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