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General News of Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Source: Myjoyonline.com

We are making prudent planning, not reckless expenditures - NHIS boss

The Acting CEO of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has defended the Scheme’s move to make investments.

Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby said the Scheme is not barred by law from investing its funds arguing that it is a mark of good insurance companies worldwide.

“Every insurance company tries to invest to have a certain amount of cover so that you can be sure at any time you can pay your claims,” she told the press at a briefing Tuesday.

Her comment follows accusations by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that government is diverting ¢1 billion of the NHIS funds into projects outside its mandate.

According to them, the monies are being used for projects which are averse to the core objectives of the Scheme at the time it is struggling to offset debts owed to service providers.

They claim that the National Health Insurance Authority in 2018 expended over ¢160 million of the Scheme’s funds to pay nursing trainee allowances.

Another ¢5 million, which has been devoted to corporate social responsibility for this year, is a worry for the NDC who do not see the need.

But Dr. Dsane-Selby said the investment was started in 2012 by the Mahama administration but “as to whether it was a risky investment then is not for me to judge.”

“We obviously in line with prudent investments were looking to really align our investments to make sure that our money is in a very good place and giving us adequate returns and that is what we are still trying to do,” she said.

“Invest we must, but we will just try to move it from more riskier investments placed previously into slightly safer investments going forward,” she added.

The NHIS boss argued that it is a given that Schemes like the NHIS are investing their funds because they cannot have the money sitting idle in a bank account.

“We must try and grow it to increase what the tax money can do for Ghanaians,” she advised.

Regarding if it is a good investment or not, the NHIA boss said the new board sat down to take a look at their funds and decided on all the possible ways of getting the best out of their investments.

“It is an ongoing exercise, one day something may look good and another day it may look a bit risky,” Dr. Dsane-Selby said.

NHIS indebtedness

She said currently the bills that are coming through are for people who went to the hospital in January 2019.

“It takes three months for the service providers to send us their bills so until then it is not an indebtedness. The bills we currently have are from January 2019 backwards.”

“You can never say there is no indebtedness, there will always be indebtedness for any insurance company. What is important is how you manage that indebtedness gap,” she said.

She said they are working on the January claims and as soon as it is ready, they will begin payment.

“Currently, the gap is probably about five months and we need to get it down to three months. We cannot pretend there is any social insurance in the world that does not have an indebtedness gap,” she stated.

According to her, service providers who have not been paid from July 2018 may have a problem either with their credentials, expired contract, quality of service or safety of patient issue at the clinic.

“We have communicated to all the providers on a special dedicated email for them to alert when via email if there are issues with their payment so we get to the bottom of it.”

“Those days of I have not been paid for two years are gone. We are running an efficient and tight ship,” she said.