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Health News of Sunday, 6 May 2007

Source: GNA

Institutions advised to stop medical refunds to employees

Tamale, May 6, GNA - Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, ranking member of the Parliamentary select committee on Health at the weekend advised institutions, especially government subvention ones to stop refunding medical claims to employees to encourage them to register with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to reduce the financial burden on their expenditure.

He said though government was using SSNIT contributions to fund the National Health Insurance Scheme, most workers were still not willing to register with the scheme since their institutions were refunding medical claims to them.

Alhaji Mubarak gave the advice in Tamale at the weekend at a roundtable discussion on the dissemination of National Survey Findings of the National Health Insurance Scheme. The Institute of Policy Alternatives (IPA) conducted the nationwide research, aimed at finding out the patronage level of Ghanaians on the NHIS and the problems card holders of the scheme suffers in the hands of health providers.

The purpose of the workshop was to create a platform for the MPs and other stakeholders to discuss the findings and come up with ways of addressing some of the issues emerged in the study. Alhaji Mubarak, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawase, described the NHIS as a good scheme and indicated that all SSNIT contributors should have registered with it to be able to educate and convince others about its relevance.

Dr Francis Osafo-Mensah, chairman of the committee said fraud was likely to collapse the scheme and called on cardholders and health service providers to remain nationalistic and work hard to ensure the sustenance of the scheme.

Other committee members called for a review of the law establishing the scheme so that it would limit boards on the scheme to only zonal and regional levels to ensure its smooth operation.

They explained that the situation where every Mutual Health Insurance Scheme throughout the country had a board was baseless since some board members were not committed in knowing how money was mobilised to run the scheme while others were also seeking their selfish interests. Mr. Issifu Lampo, Programmes Coordinator of IPA, organisers of the programme, said the research findings showed that the Volta Region recorded lowest in terms of registration with the NHIS, while the Northern Region recorded higher.

He said factors that accounted for the low patronage of the scheme included inadequate information to the rural folk, poverty, affordability, old age and disability.

Mr. Lampo said IPA collaborated with 15 civil society organisations throughout Ghana and assessed the impact, strengths and weaknesses of the start-up of the NHIS on the poorest of the poor. He said over 4,150 individuals from six clusters of the poor, including people with disability, pensioners, widows, orphans, street children and the rural poor were interviewed through a purposive sampling.