THE Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, has called on Tanzanians to join health insurance schemes to be able to receive healthcare services any time without straining their finances.
She said in Parliament yesterday that the health insurance schemes, such as the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), offer affordable packages of up 50,400/-for children, which is easily affordable to many people.
She said if Tanzanians join health insurance schemes, there will be fewer cases of complaints due to failure to pay hospital bills.
The minister also clarified that hospitals do not charge bills on dead bodies but on services a patient had received, and noted that hospitals cannot hold hostage bodies of patients who have died on grounds of unpaid medical bills.
She said relatives of a patient who had died in a hospital and could not afford the bill should go to social welfare offices at the hospital to get alternative arrangements for payment.
Earlier, the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile, said there was no hospital which will decline to hand over a dead body of a patient over payment disputes.
He said relatives should visit the offices of social welfare located in the hospital to present their case, where they will be assisted with alternative means of payment or a waiver.
He said for Temeke Hospital in Dar es Salaam, the ministry waived over 500m/- charges to relatives of deceased patients who could not afford the bills.
For June, July and August, the ministry received 4,949, 4,816, and 4,809 waiver requests respectively, he said, noting that the death of a patient in hospital does not mean that relatives will be spared the responsibility of footing the medical bill.
Dr Ndugulile was reacting to a supplementary question from Suzan Lyimo (Special Seats, Chadema), who wanted to know what the government plans to support relatives of dead patients who cannot afford to pay medical bills.