The Government clarified what the prepaid discount should be like and a ruling puts returns at risk

Only three weeks have passed since the Minister of Economy, Luis Caputo, declared that prepaid companies “are declaring war on the middle class.” It was April 8, and since then the conflict gained speed that ended with an investigation by alleged cartelizationa precautionary for the fees to be lowered and a court case for return what was collected above inflation. And the controversy continues.

The effective application of discounts on the last installment After the public announcements made by the companies left many people bewildered with the invoices received in the last few hours. According to them, they supposedly do not reflect what was communicated and agreed between the Government and medical companies private last Monday at the Ministry of Commerce.

This confusion is the product, at the very least, of confusion over how the measure was officially communicated – or not communicated -. “We are preparing a note explanatory for the public,” they said from the Government. It would be broadcast next Thursday.

This confusion is reflected both in the emails received during the last 48 hours in Clarion like in the prepaid call centers, where people are calling to find out why the amount they see reflected on the invoice apparently is not consistent with what was announced by the companies.

Clarion He reported on the controversy this Tuesday and the Government was studying the topic, which is winding and involves complex arithmetic. Now, a high official source was blunt: “There was a meeting with the seven prepaid companies involved in the resolution of the Ministry of Commerce and it was clear that the discounts to be applied ranged between 20 and 22 percent”.

OSDE is the prepaid company with the most affiliates in the country and is the only one that charges monthly in arrears. Photo: Guillermo Rodriguez Adami

The difference, however, would be occurring because to apply that discount percentage the companies – or at least a part of them – considered 9 percent more that they had announced that they would apply for the May quota. Therefore, when calculating the reduction, that 9 percent was included, as sources from the different companies explained to this medium.

The Government, on the other hand, assures that said increase announcement “deciduous from the moment the resolution. The calculation is made based on the December quota and inflation is applied: in December the October one (the last known at the time), in January the November one; in February that of December; in March that of January; in April that of February; and now in May the one in March. The amount that arises from that sum must be reflected on the invoice”.

A manager of one of the seven prepaid companies obliged to make the discounts contributed to Clarion a no minor detail: “If we did not add the 9 percent increase announced for May and applied the 20 percent discount on what was billed in April, the fee would be below the CPI (Consumer’s price index)”.

Clarion He then consulted the Ministry of Commerce to find out if there is a simpler way for prepaid members to do the calculation and know if the amount on the new invoice What they received is right or wrong. A senior source in that department explained the shortcut: “People have to take the december bill and add 115 percent. If the result gives what came in the May installment or below that, it is fine. If it gives more, it’s bad.”

The controversy until the closing of this note did not seem settled. The official sources consulted said that in the meeting they held with the prepaid companies “the compliance criteria were explained to them”. They added that “affiliates who have a claim to make in this regard can contact Consumer Defense at 0800 666 1518”, which is open from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Swiss Medica reported a discount on invoices of 22.22 percent. Photo: Luciano Thieberger

Regarding the possible differences between the official criteria with which the discounts should be made and that applied by the companies, the Government sources consulted appealed, with some irony, to the responsibility of the prepaid companies: “The boys know what they have to do. There is no place for rogues”.

From the prepaid sector they are convinced that they are doing things as agreed and that it is not in the minds of the companies “run a comma” of what the Government has available, especially at such a delicate moment that places them in the eye of the storm and subjected to judicial and public scrutiny.

They threaten heavy fines

Official sources reiterated, as reported Clarion this Tuesday, that “failing to comply with an advance protection measure (the precautionary one) issued by the Secretary of Commerce may imply a daily fine equivalent to 0.1 percent of the gross turnover of the business group reached by the measure. If that cannot be calculated, the daily fine can amount to 750 thousand mobile units per day, which at today’s exchange rate is equivalent to about 379 thousand dollars”.

The prepaid companies reached by the measure are OSDE and Swiss Medical, Galeno, British Hospital, German Hospital, Medifé and Omint. Those that had made their discounts public were OSDE, with the 20.76 percent (there was an adjustment after the first 22 percent figure reported); Swiss Medical, with the 22.22 percent; Galen, with 26.78 percent and Medifé, with the 20 percent.

The National Commission for the Defense of Competition (CNDC) is now analyzing an extension of the measure to another 13 prepaid. That list is made up of Medicus, ACA, Accord, Sancor, Italiano, Güemes Foundation, Prevention Health, Mutual Federada, Mutual Hierarchics, Essential Medicine and Pasteur. The process requires that each prepaid have opportunity to defend yourselfso a possible measure it would not be immediate.

The British Hospital is one of the seven prepayments reached by the precautionary measure of the Ministry of Commerce. Photo: Guillermo Rodriguez AdamiThe British Hospital is one of the seven prepayments reached by the precautionary measure of the Ministry of Commerce. Photo: Guillermo Rodriguez Adami

The emails received in Clarion In the last hours they reflect the uneasiness of the people, something that is expected to be clarified in an official statement. A reader said that he called the prepaid company to claim for your case and the response was: “You pay this invoice and in the month of June we will deduct it if necessary.” Another said that he tried to contact his: “I waited more than 40 minutes and they didn’t answer.”

A third reader immersed himself in the topic and shared his meticulous analysis in the text of the letter he sent to his prepaid account to complain: “In your statement yesterday you mentioned ‘current index as of December 1, 2023′. The index in force as of December 1, 2023 is that of November 2023, since at that date the index of December 2023 is not known. But the Ministry of Commerce says otherwise: it exhaustively mentions “corresponding index to December 2023. I ask you to read the resolution of the Ministry of Commerce again and you will see that its text is different and what you they interpreted in relation to the base index to be used to obtain the updated value of the quota. Correct the billing.”

Official protection in a labyrinth

On the other hand, in the complaint by the Superintendency of Health Services against 23 prepaid, which was being processed in the Federal Civil and Commercial Court No. 9, there were new developments. This Tuesday night Judge Mercedes Maquieira decided to declare himself incompetent and transfer the file to Court No. 3 of the same jurisdictionwhich has been processing since last December 29 a collective protection whose objective is to declare the unconstitutionality of two articles of DNU 70 that deregulate prepaid fees.

This cause is key given that this number of private medicine companies – which together represent more than 90 percent of the country’s affiliates -, as claimed by the Government return the amounts charged above inflation from December to the present. Now it should be Judge Juan Rafael Stinco who carries out the lawsuit promoted by the Executive Branch, a case in which three prepaid companies have already presented their defenses.

However, there is a “small” detail that sources with access to the case recalled when the news became known in the last few hours: that collective protection, called “Wilson Cause”“is going around in the Supreme Court for a matter of negative competition -they do not want to process it- between the Federal Civil and Commercial judge and another federal judge from San Martín.” So the refund of the alleged overcharges seems to have entered a labyrinth.

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