Home » Health » City Mulls Health Insurance Cover for Residents

Harare City Council will establish micro health insurance cover in which residents will contribute as little as US$3 per month to ensure access to medical services by low-income earners, particularly in the informal sector. This comes as other municipalities have mooted similar schemes and other projects to improve health delivery, while complementing Government efforts in this regard.

Director of Health Services for Harare Dr Prosper Chonzi yesterday said they were in the process of applying for a licence from the Ministry of Health and Child Care to implement the scheme, set to benefit thousands of people and their downstream beneficiaries.

The scheme, which is mainly targeting those who are employed in the informal sector, would result in members paying the small fees to the Harare Municipal Medical Aid Society for to access health care at council facilities.

Education, Health, Housing, Community Services and Licensing Committee chairperson councillor Charles Nyatsuro said HMMAS would manage the scheme separately from that for council workers.

“The facility is mainly targeting low-income earners and those in the informal sector,” he said. “The beneficiaries will pay subscriptions to HMMAS which would manage the insurance portfolio separately from its medical aid scheme.

“If council does not offer services needed by the members, they will be referred to other medical institutions which will be in partnership with council.”

Dr Chonzi recently made a presentation on the scheme to the Education, Health, Housing, Community Services and Licensing Committee after noting that health services in the city were funded mainly from the rates account and from out of pocket user fees.

“The director of health services (Dr Chonzi) reported that the rates account was already overburdened,” read part of the minutes for the meeting. “User fees were known to restrict access to health care and the majority of the patients who access health services at city council clinics were on private health insurance.

“He further reported that Central Government has been mooting the idea of a National Health Insurance, but with a high formal unemployment rate and a highly tax burdened working population, the environment was not conducive for such a scheme.”

The committee noted that the health insurance package was growing in most developing countries with a low health insurance coverage and several such schemes were operational in Ghana, Zambia and South Africa.

If successfully implemented, the scheme would pool risk for the most health vulnerable and lessen reliance on out of pocket payments that usually result in catastrophic health expenditure.

Council feels the scheme would mobilise resources for the health sector and would result in more sustainable funding and improved health care outcomes and quality.

HMMS will provide ambulance services through Netstar to those on the new scheme.

In Masvingo, the city council is working on providing maternity services at clinics in the city for easy access to residents.

City chief environmental health officer Mr Zvapano Munganatsa said they were working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to train nurses and other health officers in the fight against tuberculosis.

“We are also looking at forging a partnership that will see Victoria Ranch Clinic being incorporated into the city because there is need for a polyclinic in the area,” he said.

Mr Munganatsa said the major challenge was that Masvingo had one ambulance against a requirement of three, adding that if funds permitted, council was going to acquire more ambulances.

Chitungwiza Municipality health services director Dr Gloria Gonese said among other programmes, the municipality intended to construct an infectious diseases hospital.

Kwekwe mayor councillor Matenda Madzoke said plans were under way to construct a new clinic in the city to serve the increasing population.

Source : The Herald