By Justin Mahlahla
Government will continue to support PSMAS in order to enhance its ability to provide healthcare, maintain credibility with service providers and in the process ensure that its workers get access to health care services, Vice President General (Retd) Constantino Chiwenga has said.
Addressing a press briefing this afternoon, Vice President Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, assured civil servants of government’s commitment to ensuring their medical aid services provider does not deviate from its core mandate.
“Access to healthcare is one of the most important non-monetary benefits extended by the Government to its employees. This benefit is extended through Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), which was started in 1930 by civil servants under the name Public Service Medical Aid Society. The core business of PSMAS is therefore to serve the health needs of civil servants,” he said.
Government supports each employee who chooses to become a member of PSMAS by paying 80% (eighty percent of his or her subscription to the Society. An amount of USD$5 million dollars equivalent to a month is paid by Government as employer contributions to PSMAS. This translates to USD$60 million dollars equivalent annually, the Vice President said.
“In view of the size of that commitment to the welfare of its workers, Government has a weighty responsibility to ensure that PSMAS continues to attend effectively to its core business of providing unimpeded access to healthcare for its workers, the majority of whom are public sector workers.
“For this reason, Government maintains active contact with PSMAS to ensure that the significant outlay made from the national Treasury to guarantee efficient and effective health care services are availed when needed,” said VP Chiwenga.
He said from time to time, PSMAS draws the attention of Government to changes in the environment in which it operates, particularly as it pertains to changes in consultation fees and other health care tariffs that may necessitate adjustments in subscription rates.
Recently, the attention of Government was drawn to serious challenges being faced by its employees when they seek medical attention on the strength of their PSMAS membership cards. In many instances, service providers are refusing to honour the card, citing non-payment of claims submitted to PSMAS. This has resulted in members being required to make payments up-front, often in foreign currency. Where PSMAS medical aid cards are accepted, significant co-payments are also required, both in respect of consultation fees and the purchase of
He said Government has committed additional financial resources on a monthly basis to ensure the viability of PSMAS and PSMI to deliver on their core mandate. The funds are targeted to retire the debt to PSMI and other third-party service providers. This will in turn restore the confidence of service providers in PSMAS and would also benefit Government employees and their dependents.
“Government remains committed to ensuring that PSMAS and PSMI remain viable because these institutions are key to the health of its workforce. The Government will therefore take
measures to support PSMAS and PSMI and this will place PSMAS in a position where its word will be respected by service providers as it negotiates the restructuring of its debts,” reiterated the Vice President.
Said Vice President Chiwenga, “The Second Republic takes this opportunity to assure its workforce that Government’s support for their healthcare needs remains intact and unwavering. In addition, effective measures have been and will continue to be undertaken to secure the character and viability of PSMAS which most of them depend on for healthcare services.”