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10.10.2008 Health

NHIS Boss challenges NDC

By myjoyonline
NHIS Boss challenges NDC
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Listen to Ras Boateng on Frontpage

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. Ras Boateng, has described as “impossible”, claims by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to ensure that subscribers pay a single premium for the scheme.

“I believe that it will be improbable, impossible; there is no insurance programme anywhere in the world where one pays a single premium,” he told Kweku Sakyi-Addo, host of Joy FM's Frontpage on Friday.

Under the current scheme, people pay a premium ranging from GH¢7.2 to GH¢20, which constitutes only 15% of the total cost of running the scheme; the 2.5% of VAT contribution accounts for the remaining 85%. The law that established the NHIS exempted about 62% of the population, like the poorest poor, children under 18 and those above 70 years, from paying any premium.

The NDC manifesto promised to use only the 2.5% contribution from VAT to finance the scheme. It said subscribers would not be required to pay for any annual renewable fees.

“I disagree with that. Indeed the health insurance system rest on the 2.5% VAT that all of us pay as we consume goods and services. That alone would not be enough,” Ras Boateng challenged the NDC.

He said if the NDC thinks it is capable of managing the system with people paying a single premium forever, “then they will have no choice but to increase the 2.5% VAT charged”.

He expressed suspicion over what he said is an impracticable claim by the NDC. “May be they have something else hidden that they are not telling the rest of us. If you say the 2.5% is going to be sustainable over the long haul, this is not true.”

Mr. Boateng said his outfit has started replacement of the current district specific cards with universal cards. He hoped by the next seven months, all the I.D cards in circulation would have been replaced.

“This card will be universal, will be ubiquitous, wherever you are in this country, that same single card will enable you to access health services anywhere and everywhere in this country.”

He said even though the scheme could be accessed everywhere in the country, because it was not linked electronically, it has created some hitches in some quarters.

He explained further on the new card. “The card we are using will operate almost like a credit card, when you go to the hospital; nobody is going to sit you down to ask you questions, fill forms and so on and so forth. What is going to happen is that there is a magnetic strip at the back of the card so once they swipe it all your information will show on the computer screen”

On free accessibility for children under 18 years under the scheme, he said, their parents or guardians should be registered members before they would be treated freely.

Mr. Boateng said the NHIS is operational in all the districts with 57% of the population covered under the scheme.

Story by Isaac Essel

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