Dr. Samuel Annor addressing the workers
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Samuel Annor, has stressed the need to increase the current financing model of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to help sustain it and have a premium healthcare system in Ghana.
The NHIS was introduced in 2003, and it is currently financed by the 2.5 percent of the value added tax (VAT) and 2.5 percent of the contributions from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
According to NHIA, the current contribution is woefully inadequate to fund the insurance scheme and so had proposed one percent increment in the VAT component from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.
The NHIA had also proposed various financing models to government such as health tax on cigarette to treat smokers, taxes on alcohol and sugar to cater for sugar diseases amongst others to shore up funds for the scheme.
Speaking at a Western Regional forum for workers in Takoradi, Dr Annor explained that the membership of the NHIS continues to increase daily, leaving it with virtually no money to promptly pay claims by service providers; a situation which is affecting effective healthcare delivery in the country.
The forum, under the auspices of organised labour, in collaboration with the NHIA, was aimed at soliciting inputs from the workers’ unions on how to address the challenges of the NHIS to ensure quality health service delivery.
He indicated that as at the end of last year, the NHIA paid a little over half of its GH¢ 1.2 billion indebtedness to service providers.
Dr Annor emphasized that the Scheme which provides equitable access and financial coverage for basic healthcare services to the Ghanaian population ought to be supported and sustained.
He indicated that the NHIA was working to eliminate all inefficiencies in the Scheme, adding that the claims processing would soon be done electronically to ensure correct claims and quick payment as against the current manual system of processing them.
Dr Annor pointed out that consultations were also being made to make the NHIA law more punitive to punish those who abused the system.
The CEO indicated that he would like Ghanaians, particularly organised labour, to own the scheme since an effective NHIS is good for all, especially workers, as it guarantees them better healthcare.
“Health is imperative, let us not let this opportunity go by. Let us put the laws and rules that will take politics out of the NHIS because sickness hasn’t gotten any political colour,” Dr Annor pointed out.
He, therefore, called for a national action and charged the media and labour unions to help find lasting solutions to myriad of problems challenging the NHIS.
“Getting more members of the labour unions on our board and other committees, particularly the audit committee to help ensure transparency, will not be a problem. We just need to make some amendment in the laws,” he emphasized.
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Baah, advocated the need for the citizenry to help fund the NHIS to make it more functional.
“This is the time to make the NHIS better work for Ghanaians. Let us all ponder over ways to adequately fund the Scheme to continue to provide better healthcare services to all since cash-and-carry was not an option,” he added.
Some of the participants agreed for increased funding for the NHIS, whilst others suggested the need to make it apolitical to ensure effectiveness and to deal with mismanagement of the scheme.
Earlier, the NHIA delegation called on the Western Regional Minister, Dr Kweku Afriyie, to brief him on its mission in the region.
The delegation also visited the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi to hold discussions with the authorities and staff on the NHIS and discuss ways to improve healthcare delivery.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi