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22.05.2007 General News

Three health insurance scheme officials interdicted

By Daily Graphic
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Three officials of the West Akyem District Mutual Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS) have been interdicted on the orders of the District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr Kwabena Sintim-Aboagye, for alleged financial irregularities.

The suspects are Samuel Dankwah, the Management Information Systems Manager, Stephen Odame, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), and Ben Acquaah, the Claims Manager, who also acted as the Scheme Manager from October 2006 to April 2007.

Apart from their interdiction, the suspects have also been handed over to the Asamankese police to assist in investigations into the matter.

A fourth accomplice, Stephen Frimpong, an agent of the scheme who was the prime suspect, has also been remanded in prison custody for two weeks by the Asamankese Circuit Court presided over by Mr. Kofi Akrowiah.

Briefing the Daily Graphic in Asamankese, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the scheme, Mr Emmanuel Aboagye-Boye said the management of the scheme realised that claims from the service providers had gone up so astronomically that the hospitals had withdrawn their services.

He said they became apprehensive and suspicious so they reported the matter to the National Health Insurance Council (NHIS) in Accra and also sought its financial assistance to run the scheme.

Mr Aboagye-Boye stated that during the crisis, the scheme management reported to the DCE that the hospitals had refused to attend to clients because the scheme was indebted to them.

He said the DCE advised the management to submit the returns to the NHIC personally for verification, where it was detected that the registration figures from Asamankese were higher than what the council had in Accra.

Mr Aboagye-Boye stated that from that time, the management became alert and conducted thorough investigations into the matter.

He said the investigations revealed that people were fictitiously being registered and issued with identity cards without paying any premium, yet they enjoyed the benefits from the various service providers, namely hospitals, clinics, pharmacy shops and chemical sellers.

According to him, it was detected that only 37,000 out of the total of 58,000 registered clients were captured on the NHIC computers in Accra, resulting in the loss of more than ¢900 million in the form of support from the council.

According to Mr Aboagye-Boye, someone who claimed to be an accident victim discharged from the Koforidua Saint Joseph's Hospital, managed to claim ¢8 million from the scheme after obtaining a fake ID card.

He cited another incident when a pregnant woman possessing a fake identity card, fruitlessly attempted to claim ¢32 million, after producing a report from the Akwatia Saint Dominic's Hospital, where she claimed to have been admitted.

Mr Aboagye-Boye stated that in the course of the investigations, the management of the scheme invited Frimpong for questioning during which he admitted engaging in fishy deals and mentioned Dankwah, Odame and Acquaah as accomplices.

Meanwhile, the West Akyem District Assembly has contracted a Koforidua-based external auditing company, Inter-Class Associated Limited, to conduct full-scale auditing into the activities of the scheme, to ascertain the actual amount the scheme had lost as a result of the irregularities.

Source: Daily Graphic