MEDICAL Aid societies are set to register a decline in membership due to recent job terminations which have seen over 30 000 workers losing their jobs countrywide, officials have said.
BY VICTORIA MTOMBA
The country has 1,2 million people on medical cover. However, recent past events and economic challenges have further strained the few that were on medical aid. Premier Medical Aid Society has 900 000 members while the rest is shared among the other 28 medical aid societies.
Cimas Medical Aid Society managing director Rodrick Takawira said although they had not seen the effect of job terminations, companies were suspending their contribution on behalf of employees.
Companies and employees jointly contribute to cater for the medical welfare of the concerned worker.
“I think we must brace up for a decline in membership and we suspect that 16% of the 30 000 that had their jobs terminated are Cimas members. We think by year end, it will be clearer on the membership. We are probably going to lose more members and every medical aid [service provider] is bracing for this,” Takawira said.
He said since the beginning of the year, membership had been coming down and close to 2 000 beneficiaries were affected.
“This is a tip of an iceberg. We are also looking at how we are going to be able to carry our staff. Are we going to be able to sustain them? The issue of membership is of concern to us,” he said.
Takawira said some companies were not up to date in remitting contributions despite deducting employees’ contributions and this was due to the harsh economic environment. He said the trend had been going on for the past two years.
FML Holdings Limited group chief executive officer Douglas Hoto, said the job terminations would result in the reduction of membership and it might mean an increase in the number of claims as people try to benefit while they are still being covered.
“I think we are likely to see a reduction in membership; maybe 10% reduction on the membership,” he said.
Hoto, however, said the company did not lose many members through its FML Health as its subscribers had been static since last year.
“Our membership has been static. We have been losing members and they have been replaced by members from other medical aid societies. Our membership figure is at 110 000, the same as last year,” Hoto said.
PSMAS has the highest number of subscribers in the country as it services most government departments, but it has its share of problems as government sometimes fails to remit contributions on time resulting in service delivery being affected.
The country has 29 medical aid societies with seven being open medical aid societies while the rest are internal medical aid societies.
Open medical aid societies are those that can be joined by anyone while the internal ones are for corporates and are not open to members of the public.
Medical aid societies survive on members’ contributions and in Zimbabwe most companies have been making contributions to medical aid societies together with employees on agreed percentages.
Although the need for medical cover is high, a number of people do not have medical cover as some are not formally employed, with estimates showing that over 75% of the population is in the informal sector.