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General News of Wednesday, 25 July 2018


No room for failure; NHIS must succeed – Sylvester Mensah

NDC flagbearer hopeful and former Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Sylvester Mensah, has said his tenure at the NHIA should be viewed as one that gave permanency to the Scheme and placed it on the international stage.

According to him his tenure saw a remarkable growth in key performance indicators such as membership and utilization.

Speaking on Citi TV’s Face-to-Face program on Tuesday, Mr. Mensah said the government must support the Scheme to deliver on its objective.
“What is left now is for the NPP government to ensure that it provides the requisite funding that would move the health insurance scheme to a completely different level. Our expectation is that no government fails, the Health insurance scheme must succeed,” he said.

According to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) CEO, Dr. Samuel Annor, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) faces collapse if the financial challenges are not addressed.

Responding to concerns from Health Insurance Providers Association that the NHIS would be dead in a year’s time, Dr. Annor said: “I wouldn’t say die but we would not be rendering the service we are supposed to render.”

The NHIA CEO has long held that the scheme had run out of funds to operate.
“Between 2009 and now, we have just been piling debts,” Dr. Annor said of the NHIS.

As a result, the scheme may be dysfunctional come 2019.

“Unauthorized payments will continue, people being turned away or being asked to go and buy drugs or some health things that they will need for care would also continue… all these things will continue unless we solve the financing situation.”

As it stands now, the NHIS has GHc1.2 billion to look after 11 million Ghanaians. This works up to about GHc 110 per person.

However, Dr. Annor noted that the ideal is $86 dollars per person a year but “we are way short of what is expected and that is why the scheme is wobbling.”

The authority has advocated for the National Health Insurance Levy to be raised from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

It also wants a 1 percent contribution from citizen’s incomes.

Ahead of the Mid Year Budget Review, Dr. Annor appealed to the government to pump more money into the scheme.

“Let us try and pay the appropriate fee for our healthcare and the appropriate fee according to suggestions by the World Health Organisation is about $86 dollars or about GHc 380 or GHc 400 per year for each member of the scheme and we should strive towards that,” he said.

Bleak indications

The assertion of the Health Insurance Providers Association tallies with that of the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu.

According to him, the Health and Finance Ministries are making frantic efforts to get new sources of investment.

“We need some new some source of investment and that is what we are engaging in… I’m working. Not only me but in collaboration with the Finance Ministry, to look at how we can get some new investments to put into health insurance.”

Other than that, Mr. Agyemang Manu said the “sustainability of it [NHIS] and what we can do to make it very efficient would become a challenge.”