Cimas Medical Aid Society has been issued with an air operator’s certificate by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to allow it to operate air medical services.
The message was announced by Cimas board chairman Mordecai Mahlangu during their AGM. This achievement will make it possibel for Cimas to operate an air ambulance for patients who need to be flown swiftly to a medical facility.
Mahlangu also told members of the society that an increasing number of members were seeking medical treatment in other countries, including India. Cimas was paying for this. The reason, he said, did not lie in the quality of medical treatment available locally but in the cost. It had proved cheaper for patients to travel to places such as India for treatment than to receive it locally.
The cost of travel, accommodation and treatment in India was generally less than receiving treatment in Zimbabwe, even when taking into account the cost of a relative accompanying the patient.
The absence of a common tariff agreed by both health service providers and medical aid societies meant that medical aid societies were unable to meet the full cost of local claims; in some instances healthcare service providers had increased up to ten-fold the tariff that medical aid funds used.
The meeting was told that Cimas is in the process of acquiring equipment to set up a call centre to make communication between members and the Society easier. The call centre is expected to be functioning by July this year.
The Society is also working on new membership cards as a security measure. The new cards will have more security features, including the member’s picture on them.
Cimas group chief executive officer Mac Chaora said there had been a significant level of abuse of medical aid facilities. He said as much as a third of claims were suspect. In particular some members were allowing non-members to use their membership card to make claims from Cimas.