Earlier this month, July, Dr Samuel Annor, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority asked for an increment in the national insurance levy in order to save the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS from ‘total collapse’.
He was of the belief that a 3.5% increase from the current 2.5%, will go a long way in helping to properly finance the scheme.
“For what we are using now, the 2.5% VAT and the 2.5% SSNIT is grossly inadequate. It works out just about $25 per person for a whole year. We need as a nation to move it to about $100 per person per year. That is what we are working towards,” – Dr Samuel Annor
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His argument is that since NHIS membership had grown in response to rising demand, and taking into account the rising cost of healthcare, that would be an appropriate step to take in addition to placing a health tax on alcohol, tobacco, and sugar.
However, it didn’t take long for Sydney Casely Hayford, a social commentator, to express his disagreement with him – describing the call for an increment in funding allocation as unnecessary. Instead, Mr. Casely Hayford suggested that the NHIA engage the private sector in order to generate more revenue, saying “The NHIA should be reducing their demand because they can find different ways of taking away the responsibility of paying for all those services and getting private sector engaged so the private sector will make that money.”
In all this however, one is left wondering whether the NHIA genuinely needs more funds or if it can do fine with prudent management. This is because not too long ago, audit work done by the Ghana Audit Service indicted the NHIA for financial waste and abuse of procurement practices.
The audit report indicated the scheme may be losing close to GHS23 million, plus over $3 million through duplication of contract activity and unsubstantiated payments.
And speaking of unsubstantiated payments, just last week, a document dated March 16, 2018 showed up in which Deputy Majority Leader in parliament, Sarah Adwoa Safo requested an amount of $8,500 from the NHIA, to fund a trip to the United States. Although she admitted to making that request, both she and the authority have denied any payments were made in relation to that “after Parliament agreed to sponsor the educational programme”.
So what would have happened had parliament not stepped in? And why choose the struggling NHIA in the first place?
The NHIS is quite important to the majority of the citizenry, and much must be done to keep it viable, including prudent measures to reduce ‘under-the-table’ costs that make it lose money. For now, whether it’s a genuine concern or a simple issue of prudent management, we’ll leave it for the coming days and debates.
About the NHIA
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) was established under the National Health Insurance Act 2003, Act 650, with an objective to attain universal health insurance coverage in relation to persons resident in the country, persons not resident in the country but who are on a visit to this country, and to provide access to healthcare services to the persons covered by the Scheme.
In October 2012, a new law, Act 852, replaced ACT 650 to consolidate the NHIS, remove administrative bottlenecks,introduce transparency, reduce opportunites for corruption and gaming of the system, and make for more effective governance of the schemes. – Source National Health Insurance Scheme
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