Mater Dei seeks to increase user fees
THE Catholic-run Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo has asked the Government for permission to increase user fees by 10 percent.
The health institution has indicated it wants to generate revenue amid reports that medical aid societies are not paying the hospital. Presenting their request to the Minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa yesterday, the board’s director of finance, Mr Gavin Stephens, said the increase was likely to improve the situation at the hospital.
“We are asking the Minister to approve our request to increase tariffs and fees by 10 percent,” he said.
In response, Minister Parirenyatwa asked the board to put their request in writing and submit a detailed report on how they got to 10 percent.
“We need to look at the request holistically bearing in mind that there will be consequences. You stated that your cash flow problems are linked to the medical insurance business which is failing due to the economic challenges facing everyone,” he said.
“However, I do not see how they will manage to pay up tariffs if they increase by 10 percent considering that they are failing clear fees which are lower than what you are asking for.”
Minister Parirenyatwa said he would not look at the proposal in isolation as it could be used by other institutions and stakeholders to hike their fees. Mr Stephens said Mater Dei faces several peculiar challenges. “I think our problems stem from different areas and if you go to the bottom of it, our occupancy figures are not as good as we would like them to be.
“We have not been able to admit patients if their medical aid companies have outstanding debts and that has impacted on us negatively. Medical Aid Societies make it very difficult for us to operate as most of them are failing clear their arrears.”
He said increasing occupancy would bring about a smooth flow of operations which badly needs to replace old equipmentat the old hospital. “Medical costs on our side have grown since 2010 and the CPI (Consumer Price Index) to over 160 percent and if we don’t take preventative action we will fail to operate,” said Mr Stephens.
“There comes a time when we must look at the revenue and the tariffs. I think though we’re running well, we don’t have the confidence in our future as an institution.”
A (CPI) measures changes in the price level of a market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households.
Mater Dei board chairperson Dr Eric Cohen applauded Minister Parirenyatwa for taking time to visit the hospital.
The hospital charges at least $110 for a bed daily. — @ thamamoe