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Opinions of Sunday, 15 July 2018

Columnist: John Elliot Hagan

NHIS broke

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says inadequate funding is crippling the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and threatens the survival of the scheme.

As a result, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NHIA, Dr Samuel Annor has proposed a number of tax measures to complement existing funding sources to save the scheme from imminent collapse.

He, therefore, called on all major stakeholders to support NHIA’s proposals to increase funding for the scheme, which includes an increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) component of the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) from its current 2.5% to 3.5%.

He also suggested a levy on sugar, alcohol and tobacco, as well as an allocation of oil revenue into the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), to enable it to become financially sustainable to run efficiently.

He said the 2.5% was grossly inadequate as it works out to just about only $25 per person for the whole year; hence, there was the need to move to $100 for each person per year.

Dr Annor further announced that the authority would begin processing claims it receives from service providers electronically, to eliminate corruption in the vetting and claim processes.

He was speaking to journalists on the sidelines after a stakeholders’ engagement with the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu.

The meeting with the Chief Imam forms part of NHIA’s series of engagement as a means of restructuring the NHIS.

The meeting was also to create a platform for stakeholders to discuss and find solutions to the financial challenges facing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

He announced that the NHIA is in the process of amending the laws on crime against the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) to make it more punitive to ensure that the scheme becomes more effective and responsive to the growing health needs of Ghanaians.

He indicated that the law currently gives a judge the option to only fine a culprit after conviction, but the authority intends amending the law to compulsory imprisonment terms.

“This is because we want people to differentiate between somebody who is hungry wanting a little bread and someone who aggressively planned to steal from the nation’s health wire, which is the NHIA.

“When you steal from the NHIL, it means you are killing people, so we are going to protect the levy with all the force that we have,” he stated.

On his part, Chief Imam, Sheikh Sharubutu said the health insurance in Ghana is like a shelter under which almost every person in need of health can take comfort and security, and it was, therefore, a collective duty on the part of citizens to ensure its success.

He appealed to the government to make it a priority in resolving the financial problems facing the scheme.

He said health is priceless, and urged Ghanaians not to underestimate the state of their health, aside the peace that they are enjoying.