NHIA wants insurance premiums increased to stay afloat

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), is liaising with the Ministry of Health (MoH), to get Parliament to increase the health insurance premiums to ensure the sustainability of the scheme.

It said the GH¢7.20 being paid as premium was unrealistic, accounting for some challenges confronting the Authority.

Currently, beneficiaries, pay between GH7.20 and GH¢48 depending on their economic status.

The paltry contribution is believed to be hindering the smooth operations of the authority culminating in the call by some stakeholders for an increment to ensure its financial sustainability.

The call was met with both applause and criticisms in equal measure by a section of Ghanaians.

At a media interaction yesterday, Mr. Nathaniel Otoo, Acting Chief Executive of the authority, set the pace for a broader discussion on the way forward of the scheme and suggested possible sustainability measures to consolidate the gains of the scheme.

Making a case for some policy reforms, Mr. Otoo said the authority had engaged the ministry on whether or not to increase premiums.

He noted that the interaction had gone far, indicating that the authority expected a feedback from the ministry in a couple of weeks.

Mr. Otoo, who had been acting in that capacity for only two months, assured that he would partner with stakeholders to review policies and enhance service delivery.

Currently, 69 per cent of NHIS beneficiaries including pregnant women, the aged, mental patients and children below 18 years, do not pay premium.

This, in addition to non-payment of premiums by Social Security and National Insurance Trust contributors, has made timely and prompt payment of claims to service providers difficult.

The situation Mr. Otoo said, had put pressure on the paltry contributions of the few.

Mr. Otoo said as a result the authority would engage the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other stakeholders to solicit their support for some beneficiaries under the scheme.

Besides, he said, the authority was negotiating with pharmaceutical industries for the provision of some drugs, indicating that 50 per cent of its resources was spent on drugs and other medical supplies.

Responding to questions on ill-treatment of patients by some health providers, Mr. Otoo said the authority had introduced a front desk system at the various facilities to assist clients.

He said the authority would assign National Service Personnel to all health facilities providing health care to NHIS subscribers.

He said the authority would also embark on media campaigns and run documentaries to educate card holders of the scheme.

The approach, according to him, was to reduce fraud and abuse because clients would be better informed to raise legitimate concerns and demand redress.

Mr. Otoo said the authority had established claims a processing centre, clinical audit, consolidated premium accounts and electronic claims processing, to ensure improved service delivery.

On prompt payment of claims and arrears owed private health providers, Mr. Otoo disclosed that some monies had been paid already while steps were being taken to defray outstanding claims.

By Malik Sullemana & Hafida Benadaou

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