Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
MEDICAL aid card holders can claim shortfalls from their employers, a tax expert has said.
The money can be recovered through exemption from Pay as You Earn (PAYE) deductions.
Speaking at the recent Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ) annual conference in Victoria Falls, Mr Tendai Mavima said workers are entitled to a credit of 50 percent of the shortfalls.
He said a majority of workers were not aware that after paying for medical shortfalls, they can present proof of payment to the employer and be exempt from PAYE deductions until the shortfall is cleared.
“In terms of the law if an employee pays for medical expenses or buys drugs or invalid appliances such as artificial limbs, wheelchair or glasses which are not covered by the medical aid, he or she is allowed to claim 50 percent of that cost. The employer shouldn’t deduct PAYE from such an employee until 50 percent of his or her medical costs are refunded,” said Mr Mavima.
He said this wasn’t happening because workers aren’t aware that if they pay for any medical shortfall they should give receipts to their employers.
Some employers also don’t know that their workers have that right, said Mr Mavima.
“When you pay doctors’ shortfall, give your receipt to the employer and you get 50 percent of that as credit on PAYE. This means that nothing will be deducted from your salary until the money owed to you as an employee is cleared,” added Mr Mavima.
Many workers who are on medical aid have been paying huge sums of money in shortfalls and the new relevation is therefore a big relief.
Government is mooting a Medical Aid Bill to address the many challenges facing healthcare funding modalities.
Health funders and service providers are advocating for scientific tariffs which will guide pricing of healthcare services based on research on economies of scale.
AHFoZ chief executive officer Mrs Shylet Sanyanga said to solve issues to do with medical costs, the country needs scientific tariffs based on citizens’ affordability.
“We have agreed as health partners to engage experts on the scientific tariffs which should be derived from a study of various economic fundamentals,” she said.
“We want a pricing system that people can afford. It’s scientific because it is based on facts, transparency and authenticity as opposed to the current scenario where nobody can justify or defend any cost. We need to convene a meeting on scientific tariffs soon.”
She said AHFoZ and Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) had agreed in principle to workout scientific tariffs and what is left is to meet and agree on timeframes.
Zimbabwe medical services are exorbitant compared to neighbouring countries and as such patients are forced to seek treatment outside the country thereby inconveniencing patients.
AHFoZ chairman Mr Macdonald Chaora said besides scientific tariffs, there was a need for health funders and service providers to lobby for a review of regulations to allow players to negotiate between themselves on tariffs based on competitiveness.
“This would enable market forces to come into play as is the practice elsewhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mrs Sanyanga said the conference, which was held under the theme: “Connecting the Healthcare elements: Cost, Access and Sustainability” was a success, especially after learning from a case study of South Africa’s National Health Insurance.— @ncubeleon.