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01.11.2004 General News

Final preparations underway for NHIS take-off

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Accra, Nov. 1, GNA - Final preparations are underway for the take-off of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) towards the end of this month, Mr Kwame Amposah-Bediako, Government Spokesperson on Health, said on Monday.

He told the GNA that preparations had reached different levels of progress in the various sub-metros and districts across the country. He said the coordinators of the scheme were working around the clock to ensure that after three months of paying, a contributor would start benefiting from the scheme.

When the NHIS is effective, it would ensure that patients would automatically follow the due process of receiving health care. The National Health Insurance Levy went into force a few weeks ago.

Mr Amposah-Bediako said in the Greater-Accra Region, various Sub-Metro Health Insurance Offices have been created and some of them, particularly the Kpeshie Sub-Metro Office, have already printed Health Insurance Cards to be distributed to the contributors.

"The contributors would need to present their cards at the health points, mainly the polyclinics and the district and sub-metro hospitals, where they would receive free treatment.

"Non-contributors such as the unemployed do not qualify to benefit from the scheme, except those who manage to get other contributors to pay for them."

He said at the La sub-metro, sensitisation about the scheme was still on-going and at Amasaman the Health Insurance Office had just been set up.

Mr. Amponsah-Bediako said the first point of call in search of health care was the district or sub-metro health post, from where a patient could be referred to the regional hospital and finally to the tertiary levels, which are the independent hospitals such as Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Konfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and Tamale General Hospital.

"It is mandatory for a patient contributing to the scheme to first visit their district or sub-metro hospitals before they could be referred to the major hospitals.

"When that happens, the district and sub-metro hospitals and polyclinics would be fully utilized and the pressure on the major hospitals would be eased."

Mr. Amposah-Bediako said in emergencies, a patient could be sent straight to any of the major hospitals.

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