The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has said its members have failed to access health services in hospitals owned by Aga Khan due to costly treatment that could make the NHIF bankrupt.
A statement issued by NHIF Director General Emmanuel Humba during a meeting with NHIF members in Zanzibar Zone held at Bwawani Hotel in Zanzibar at the weekend said the NHIF had been forced to revisit its procedure of having its members treated at Aga Khan hospitals due to costly services.
He said despite calls to hospitals run by religious organisations to provide services to people instead of doing business, still expenses at the Aga Khan hospitals had gone up forcing the NHIF to reconsider its contract with the Aga Khan hospitals.
Humba cited a caesarean section operation, saying it cost up to 2.4m/-, while in many hospitals it cost 40,000/-.
He said it was because of ongoing negotiations between the NHIF and the Aga Khan management that services to members had been temporarily suspended.
He said the decision to suspend the contract was reached and became effective from February, this year.
Humba explained that it was true that the decision had inconvenienced its members, particularly because at the same time medical doctors throughout the country were on strike thus affecting health services.
However, he said according to the NHIF, Aga Khan hospital made huge profits instead of providing services, given the fact that the government had removed taxes on such health facilities.
“It is high time the government checked hospitals that make businesses instead of providing services. Such hospitals should start paying taxes because they cause the NHIF to be bankrupt," said the director general.
He said the NHIF was not alone in failing to meet expenses charged by the Aga Khan chain of hospitals, its counterpart in Kenya was also facing a similar situation.
Members wanted to know why they could no longer access Aga Khan health services.
The director general, however, wanted members of the NHIF to be vigilant as the NHIF board was negotiating with the government to come up with a feasible solution.
He said from July to December, the NHIF spent 26.3bn/- on medical expenses cover for its members both in Tanzania Mainland and in Zanzibar.
NHIF implementation director Constantine Makala said over 2.5 million people had been benefiting from the NHIF through 5,300 centres registered countrywide.
Makala explained that since the establishment of the NHIF in 2001, a total of 140.7bn/- had been spent to serve its members.
However, he said the NHIF still faced a number of challenges including lack of medical supplies in public health centres, especially in rural areas, lack of enough health workers and the fact that there was no authority to check expenses in the health sector in the country.