Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) has faulted Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) for going “beyond their powers in enforcing compliance” before properly engaging them.
Masm chief executive officer Sydney Chikoti said this in an interview on Monday in reaction to CFTC order to stop Masm from broadcasting or publishing “deceptive adverts” on its newly-introduced ‘no shortfall’ initiative.
In a statement last week, CFTC executive director Wezi Charlotte Malonda said Masm’s conduct of providing “false information or suppressing crucial information in the name of terms and conditions apply is grossly deceptive, unfair and unreasonable”.
But Chikoti said the manner in which CFTC acted has left its members confused, adding that even though few hospitals are still asking its members to pay shortfalls, most facilities are not charging shortfalls.
“CFTC has been on Masm on a number of issues, but we always discuss and you have never seen anything come out in the papers. So, why was this of such grave importance to the extent that immediately they had to react in this way. They are being the judge, jury and everything on their own,” he said.
CFTC has been investigating Masm following numerous complaints alleging that consumers were being charged shortfalls on medical expenses and consultation fees despite claims by the medical insurance scheme that members would not be paying shortfalls.
Chikoti said they have complied to the order by CFTC, but accused CFTC of flouting procedures in its approach and that they are not happy with how they acted.
He said: “We believe that it was not procedural because normally when CFTC has issues with us, they write and invite us to discuss where the remedies are agreed, without the need of causing the alarm,” he said.
Since January this year, Masm has been airing adverts touting the ‘no shortfall’ slogan, saying its members were no longer required to pay shortfalls on all services, including consultation, laboratory, scanning or admission of which each scheme will have terms and conditions.
CFTC said what Masm did was a “serious offence under the Competition and Fair Trading Act, Cap 48:09 of the Laws of Malawi.
“In view of this, the commission hereby directs Masm to immediately cease and desist from further broadcasting or publishing this deceptive advert until otherwise advised in writing by the commission,” reads the statement in part.
CFTC said the law further requires that every advertiser provides consumers with true, adequate, clear and prompt information on the goods or services offered so that consumers can make proper and informed choices.
“By claiming that Masm has scrapped off shortfalls, while in practice demanding that members pay shortfalls on medical and consultation bills, Masm has deceived and swindled consumers,” reads the statement. n