NHIS to adopt new strategy to fund operations

The Upper East Regional Directorate of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has engaged its partners on the new strategic direction of the Scheme aimed at improving the operation of the Scheme.

Speaking at separate stakeholders meetings  held  in all the 13 Municipal and Districts in the Upper East Region,  the Regional Director of the Scheme, Mr Sebastian Alangpulinsa explained that as at 2003 when the pro-poor policy was introduced many people by then had not joined  the Scheme hence there were not much problems associated with it.

He stressed that realising the importance of the Scheme a lot of Ghanaians have now gotten enrolled on to it putting financial burden on the scheme and making it difficult to run it properly to satisfy all Ghanaians, adding that since its inception it had provided benefits package that covers more than 95 per cent of disease conditions in Ghana.

“The Scheme is now crawling to survive due to financial constraints to meet its growing demand. The reality is that the numbers that are coming into the Scheme are not matching the resources that we have to cater for. Our source of funding since the Scheme started in 2003 has been the same,” he observed.

The Regional Director noted that the current funding basket provided only 30 dollars (about GH¢132.60) per client per annum which he indicated was woefully inadequate as compared to 86 dollars (about GH¢380.12) per international standards.

He explained that it was against this background that the Managers of the Scheme were proposing a percentage of tax to be imposed on alcoholic beverages in order to manage the scheme efficiently.

“Families can testify how alcohol has taken away their relatives. When people drink and the situation gets worse, then, the burden is largely on the health insurance, so we are thinking that there should be a levy on the beer that we drink,” Mr Alangpulinsa proposed.

The Scheme, he noted, was also proposing a percentage of tax on cigarette and sugar, a percentage of Ghana’s oil revenue,   portion of the communication tax, one per cent direct contribution from employee’s basic salary and two per cent from an employer as well as one per cent increase on the National Health Insurance Levy.

This, the Regional Manager indicated, would enable the Scheme to render efficient and quality Health Services to the Ghanaian Populace.

He stated that there were also plans to establish viable Information Communication Technology system that would aid the Authority in paying claims while reducing human interferences in claims adjudications and payments.

In backing these proposals Mr Alangpulinsa stated that the authority want legal powers from the Attorney General to prosecute health insurance related fraud “to ensure that the purse of the insurance is properly protected.

The Upper East Regional Industrial Relations Officer of Local Government Workers Union of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Asumbere Sam Julian entreated workers and employees to contribute their quota to avert the Scheme from collapsing.

Manageress of Urban East Health Centre in Bawku, Mrs Agbanwa Gabiana Abugri, while welcoming the move raised by the Scheme Managers, entreated them to  block the loopholes that was thwarting the survival of the Scheme.

Dr Francis Asaanah, another provider and a medical director of Quality Medical Centre in Bawku also admonished managers of the scheme to consider levying beneficiaries in the informal sector as well.

From Samuel Akapule, Bawku


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