Doctors face financial strain amid changing healthcare system

Uatavi Mbai

Namibian doctors have revealed the challenges they’re grappling with due to changes in the country’s healthcare system.

David Weber, the chairman of the Medical Association of Namibia (MAN), says there is a growing gap between fair compensation and what regulatory bodies consider reasonable and healthcare professionals face daily struggles.

“The relationship between doctors and the medical aid fund industry, ensuring fair pay for private healthcare services, has come under strain due to factors like an increased number of medical graduates, foreign-trained professionals returning to Namibia, and rising medical costs,” he says.

Weber says there is a lack of consultation in communicating adjustments to healthcare professionals.

“Doctors are often left unaware and financially uncertain when changes are made without consulting us.
It’s a concerning trend.

“Instances of fraud, waste and abuse constitute only a small percentage of total fund expenditure, showing that the focus on regulating doctors may not be proportionate,” he says.

A significant portion of medical aid expenditure, approximately 34% since 2018, is allocated to hospital companies, while the issue of fair compensation for healthcare professionals remains unresolved.

“Operating costs for healthcare services have sharply risen, putting professionals on the brink of financial instability,” he says.

Speaking on MAN’s stance, Weber says: “We support the rights of healthcare professionals to claim fair remuneration from their patients, questioning the fairness and accuracy of benchmark tariffs set by regulatory bodies.

“Patients, employment groups, and concerned parties should engage with their trusted healthcare professionals to gain insight into the daily challenges we face.

“There’s a need for transparency and fair compensation to ensure the sustainability of quality healthcare in Namibia.”
In a bid to address escalating costs and streamline healthcare services, the Namibian Association of Medical Aid Funds (Namaf) has outlined a series of interventions aimed at enhancing efficiency and cost-effectiveness within the healthcare system.

Speaking to The Namibian, Namaf spokesperson Uatavi Mbai last week said: “By implementing a transparent pricing model, we aim to eliminate ambiguity and ensure fair pricing practices across the board.”

She revealed plans to optimise hospital contracting processes to enhance cash flow and allow more thorough assessment of claims.

“Through strategic hospital contracting, we seek to establish mutually beneficial payment terms that facilitate better financial planning for medical facilities,” Mbai said.

In addition to financial measures, Namaf highlighted the importance of clinical considerations in healthcare delivery.

“Healthcare interventions must be driven by clinical necessity and effectiveness. We are working to delineate clear guidelines for different levels of medical interventions, ensuring that resources are allocated appropriately,” she said.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!