About 130 medical doctors are at loggerheads with Botswana Medical Aid Society (BOMaid) over balance billing, their preferred model of payment for health services.
The doctors who include mostly specialists, almost all dentists and optometrists have stood up against BOMaid in what they view as ‘acts of intimidation and bullying’ by the medical aid providers who are against the balance billing model. In the wake of a petition that the doctors submitted, we took to the streets of Gaborone to get a cross section of opinions from members of the public regarding the latest development.
Stephen Lebotse, 32
“As a nurse working for a private hospital the balance billing method is going to affect us ethically. It makes sense from a business perspective, but if a patient comes to the hospital desperately in need of my help and they tell me that they do not have money I’ll be forced to ignore a dying person just because they can’t afford to pay cash on top of their medical aid account. I personally think that certain situations like life threatening conditions should be exempted from the balance billing method.”
Neneketsang Gaonakgang, 36
“The reason we’re using medical aid is that we don’t always have cash and you never know when you’re going to need a doctor. If we’re going to pay cash while we are paying for the
medical aid every month then what’s the use of having a medical aid?”
Gaositege Motsemme, 29
The balance billing method doesn’t really strike me as an ideal system for people with medical aid. I think people who do not have medical aid are better off than some of us because they’ll be paying without worrying about maintaining a medical aid account. It basically means that people with
medical aid will be paying double for medical services. If you don’t have enough cash to top up and get the best prescribed medication at the dispensary then you will have to part with the little you have to get a cheaper and lower quality alternative drug.”