PSMAS under siege from angry service providers

PREMIER Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) which has been embroiled in messy allegations of abuse of funds and obscene executive remunerations at the expense of service delivery has come under attack from healthcare providers for paying back claims it owes with a reduction of 20%.

Kudzai Kuwaza

As a result of allegations of the abuse, the society retired CEO Cuthbert Dube who was earning salaries and allowances of more than US$6 million a year and fired board chairperson Meisie Makeletso Namasasu.

The medical aid society, which owes US$38 million to various healthcare providers, has been accused of arm twisting some of its debtors telling them to take what was on the table.

One affected healthcare provider told businessdigest that PSMAS had approached them late last year with the ultimatum.

The healthcare provider, the source revealed, did not have much choice as they were owed nearly US$200 000 by PSMAS. The failure to get their money from the society, the source said, had left them on the verge of retrenching staff at the organisation.

“We had suggested that PSMAS pay the remaining 20% over a period of time but they refused,” the source revealed.

The organisation revealed that they had complained to PSMAS that they failed to pay their debt in full, yet were paying themselves handsomely, a claim that the society vigorously refuted at the time.

Another healthcare provider revealed how they had been called to a meeting by the society with various other service providers including dentists and individual doctors on the 2nd of January.

At the meeting, the health care providers were informed that the money the society was using to pay their claims was a bank loan with an interest rate of 20% per annum.

The source said they were told that they would have to foot the interest rate charged for the loan by taking a 20% reduction on the amounts owed to them.

“We had no choice but to sign as we had numerous debts including having to pay Zimra (The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) and employees. They told us to take it or leave it. We were made to sign so that it was legally binding, but we told them that what they were doing was ethically and morally wrong,” a source added.

“The reason why we are not coming out in the public is we fear that we will be punished for complaining. This could be either in the form of delays in payments using flimsy excuses or being placed under audit investigation.”

Some of those affected have since made complaints to the ministry of health over what they feel is grossly unfair treatment from PSMAS. A senior official at a major health institution said the PSMAS’ “big brother” attitude, because of its large membership base, was a major cause of concern in the health sector.

“This is a very worrying development. Instead of paying interest on delayed payments PSMAS are taking 20% which is more than the interest they would have made. But they were desperate for cash as some of them had not been paid for six months, ” said a source.

Contacted to respond to the allegations, PSMAS acting chief executive Farai Muchena would not be drawn to comment citing confidentiality.
“We acknowledge receipt of your enquiry,” Muchena said. “Kindly be advised that the Society has a confidential business relationship with healthcare service providers who service its members.

“As such, all its financial transactions with them are to that extent private and confidential. We would advise that you get the information from the providers themselves.”