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05.10.2004 Regional News

NHIS benefits depends on prevailing conditions- Official

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Ho, Oct. 05 GNA - Mr Albert Asiedu-Offei, Volta Regional Administrator of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Tuesday said the benefit range of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was not static but dependent on the dynamics of the changing prevailing conditions.

He said the exigencies of the prevailing economic trend of the world, the competence of health personnel and the ability of the members of the public to understand the payment of premiums and other requirements of the Scheme were challenges that needed to be surmounted to enable the Scheme to succeed.

Mr Asiedu-Offei was addressing a press conference to seek media support and collaboration in the implementation of the NHIS in the region.

He said moral hazards, including collusion and illegal fees and other negative attitudes like insurance fraud and malingering could militate against the operation of the NHIS.

Mr Asiedu-Offei said the larger the number of subscribers the lower the premium and therefore, urged the Ghanaian populace to embrace the Scheme, which would be compulsory with time and the only means of funding health delivery in the country.

He said the system would allow for referrals and cross transfers of cases to other hospitals with particular reference to cases from the remote and rural areas.

The Administrator said with the advent of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and the practice of tele-medicine, the Scheme would add impetus to healthcare delivery.

Mr. Asiedu-Offei said the Scheme was a win-win game and enjoined all Ghanaians to take advantage of it, adding, "NHIS is not for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) alone but a scheme for all Ghanaians".

Dr Andrew Arde-Acquah, Volta Regional Director of the (GHS) said the NHIS was an alternative prepaid scheme for funding healthcare delivery of individuals which was better than the "cash and carry" system.

He said the benefit package would include in-patient and out-patient cases, medical treatment at the District level, as well as emergency cases and referral cases, noting that "the key issue in NHIS is that the insurer patient does not have to pay directly from his or her pocket for services at the time of use".

Dr. Arde-Acquah said the Scheme, which is a risk pooling one, allows for free, equal and quality access to healthcare. Mr. Prosper K. Pi-Bansah, Ho District Scheme Manager said government was supporting over 90 District Wide or Sub-Metro Schemes country-wide with the disbursement of over 35 billion cedis to facilitate the take-off of the schemes.

He said about 27,307 applicants comprising people from the formal and informal sectors have already been registered and office accommodation procured while personnel have been recruited for the commencement of the Scheme in November, in the District.

Mr Pi-Bansah said the gestation period for the maturity of premiums would be decided by the Scheme in due course.