The government-owned PSMI that operates medical facilities like Weste End Clinic recently announced that its members would now be required to pay US$5 or $1050 if they want to be treated at one of its facilities. Prior to this announcement, only non-members were required to pay upon seeking medical attention at PSMI facilities.

This announcement has naturally not gone down well with members:

This is very unfair to members, particularly Government employees who had always been paying their monthly contributions without anything in return.

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Workers are of the view that the money being charged as co-payments is meant for nothing other than boosting management pockets.

Civil servants in a letter to PSMI

The worst thing that can happen to you as a Zimbabwean is to get sick. Not only will you have a sickness to contend with but most of the time you will suffer from a broken healthcare system. Traditionally the only way to avoid this was to have a good medical aid facility. For civil servants, there is but one option in the form of PSMAS. For PSMAS members to be asked to pay for seeking consultation is therefore unconscionable as it essentially means them paying twice. The entity is not moved by this fact:

Subscriptions on the medical aid side continue to track the official rate while costs are being incurred based on parallel market rates, making it difficult for PSMI to meet obligations as they fall due.

Given these pressures and the target market’s inability to afford market-related subscriptions, PSMI, therefore, introduced co-payments to assist in meeting operating expenses.

Premier Service Holding Company (PSHC) public relations, communications and brand manager Arthur Choga

That’s not a new excuse but it’s also not a valid excuse either. That is because even civil servants’ wages are also based on the same official rate. Even though the entity operates at an arm’s length it still is a government-owned entity that is supposed to be alive to the plight of civil servants. If they want more money they can approach the employer of those same civil servants who is constantly fighting to get a living wage.

It is also curious that the $5 fee is being pegged at a rate that is higher than the official rate.