Medical Insurance in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s health sector is divided into public and private sectors. Government owns around 70% of health facilities in the country, while the private sector owns about 30%.
Most workers in the country cannot afford private hospitals and clinics, so they are cared for at state and mission hospitals and clinics, which are less expensive.
Features of the Medical Aid sector
There are more than 30 medical aid societies in the country. Around 10 of these are in-house or restricted to respective industries or employees, while the rest are open societies.
Both public and private employers provide medical insurance through participation in medical aid societies. These are non-profit organisations that collect premiums from business and/or government organisations and use that money to pay health care providers for services provided to beneficiaries.
Medical insurance money, whether for public or private facilities, is deducted each month from a workers’ salary.
Medical aid schemes in workplaces in Zimbabwe are voluntary, dealing directly with employers and consumers and avoiding broker costs. But they can limit an employee’s choice of society.
Benefit packages are clearly specified, but are segmented. There are different levels of cover, which apply to the different income groups of beneficiaries.
Public Health Insurance
The Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) is an example of a state health insurance system. Civil servants have access to state insurance only if they are government employees.
Premier Service Medical Aid Society is a state-funded scheme and is mainly prioritised for civil servants and low income persons. Employees with this insurance can access all government hospitals and clinics without having to spend large amounts of money upfront.
Disadvantages of Public Health Insurance
The inability of public medical service providers to pay their debts is hampering efforts to procure drugs for the health sector. This impacts on proper health care for employees with low incomes.
Private Medical Industry
The private medical industry in Zimbabwe is small but plays a significant role in most workplaces and is the biggest player in the private sector. Medical Aid societies cover a tenth of the country’s population and provide 80% of income to private health care providers in Zimbabwe.
Benefit packages can discriminate between management and lower grades, with those designed for higher income groups providing access to both private and public hospitals.
Those packages designed for lower grades often only have full access to public hospitals and limited access to private hospitals.
These medical practitioners are popular in Zimbabwe and offer an alternative source for many Zimbabweans seeking medical treatment through the Zimbabawe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha).
No medical aid is required and services provided are determined by the traditional healer while payment is in cash or kind - as in goat, maize meal, cattle etc.