12 December 2002

Zimbabwe: Premier Service Medical Aid Society Subscriptions Increased

Harare — The Premier Service Medical Aid Society has increased membership subscriptions by 45 percent beginning of next month.

PSMAS, formerly the Public Service Medical Aid Society, has also increased membership benefits with effect from next month in sympathy with the increase in subscriptions.

PSMAS has been reviewing membership contributions after every three months and the last increases were effected on October 1. Increases in subscriptions were necessitated by the "run away health costs prevailing in the country at present".

The chief executive of PSMAS, Mr Cuthbert Dube, said the price of drugs, hospital fees, doctors' consultation fees and other health care services were going up each month.

"The society's contribution rates still remain the lowest in the country with the majority of the benefits still remaining competitive.

"Without these increases, the society members would continue to experience inconveniences of cash embargoes when seeking medical attention," he said.

He added that the society would explore and exercise cost-containment measures to minimise frequent and huge increases in future.

As part of its strategic planning, the society has now ventured into health service provision at affordable costs as a way of stabilising the runaway medical inflation in the country.

It has bought a number of clinics and clinical laboratories across the country valued at $160 million.

The facilities, Mr Dube said, were bought using the society's own resources without recourse to mortgage finance.

Mr Dube said the members were not forced to use the purchased facilities but were urged to do so since the fee structures were reasonably priced.

The benefits were also increased by almost 100 percent as a way of cushioning members from the runaway medical hyperinflation.

"Hospitalisation in Zimbabwe benefits under the Main and excel Plus has increased to $1,8 million up from $500 000 while the same facility under the Premier Plan has been increased to $3,8 million up from $800 000," PSMAS said.

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