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15.05.2007 General News

Health Insurance operators asked to issue ID cards

By myjoyonline

The National Health Insurance Council (NHIC) has directed all the 142 District Mutual Health Insurance Schemes to issue identity cards to new members immediately after they are registered.

The Executive Secretary of the Council, Mr Ras Boateng, who gave the directive, said although the Council was not responsible for registering and issuing cards, it took it upon itself to publish the names of more than 7,000 people in Accra whose identity cards were ready for collection.

He was speaking at a day's workshop for editors and senior health reporters on the implementation of the National Health - Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Accra on Monday.

The workshop was organised by the Council in response to some concerns being expressed by sections of the media on the implementation of the scheme.

Mr Boateng explained that the practice in the past had been that schemes did not issue the cards to people going through registration until after the waiting period of three to six months.

He said the schemes had been provided with the necessary logistics to meet that challenge and where they were not available, they could contract outsourcing companies to issue out the identity cards.

Mr Boateng said as a solution to the identity card problem, the Council was coming out with a uniform identity card for all the schemes by the end of the year.

He said although the names of those whose identity cards were ready for collection in March and April this year were published, the response had not been encouraging, since majority of the cards were still with the schemes awaiting collection.

"I want to appeal through you once again to urge the owners of the unclaimed cards to go for them from the schemes," Mr Boateng stated.

He warned that the scheme managers would be sanctioned if they continued to delay issuing the identity cards to members of the schemes, adding that “there is no sense in registering people who will not be issued with identity cards after six months”.

On the payment of claims, Mr Boateng said it was unfortunate some media reports had wrongly accused the Council of delaying payment of claims to service providers and explained that the Council was not responsible for the payment of claims.

He said the service providers were required to submit their claims to the schemes two months after rendering services to the scheme members.

"If they delay or make illegitimate" c1aims, payment is also delayed as the claims are subjected to serious vetting," he said.

Mr Boateng said what the Council did was to give financial support to the schemes for administrative purposes in addition to releasing their share of the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) and SSNIT contribution every quarter, based on the operating statistics they submitted.

On the performance and impact of the NHIS, he said in spite of numerous challenges, the scheme was making very positive impact on healthcare financing in the country, saying that "we expect to attain between 50 and 60 percent national coverage this year".

He said after two years of the implementation of the scheme, about eight million people, representing 40 percent of the country's population had registered to be part of the scheme, stating that “if we are here, then the scheme has come a long way.”

Mr Boateng listed lack of infrastructure to do proper vetting of claims and monitoring of fraud, lack of risk sharing on the part of subscribers and service providers and difficulty in identifying paupers for free coverage as some of the problem currently facing the scheme

He commended the media for the interest so far shown in the scheme and announced that the Council had decided to interact, with the media every quarter to brainstorm on possible ways of improving the scheme.

Credit; Daily Graphic