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24.02.2005 General News

Managers asked to streamline NHIS payments

By GNA

Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - Discussants at a roundtable on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) on Thursday called on managers of the Scheme to streamline the mode of reimbursing medical claims to avoid abuse.

They particularly asked that monies be paid on time to health centres and providers so that they could continue to provide care under the scheme to the people.

The discussants were of the view that since the establishment of the Scheme there was more work for health providers, especially doctors and that issue also ought to be considered for a proper remuneration.

At the roundtable, organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra, the participants reached a consensus on the need for proper definition of the beneficiaries of the scheme to facilitate the sustainability of the NHIS.

The theme of the discussion was: "Towards Universal Health Coverage; The Economics of the National Health Insurance Scheme". The three-hour programme discussed: "Policy, Financial Analysis, Potentials and Challenges of the NHIS"; "Critique of the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme" and the "National Health Insurance Levy". Dr Stephen Akor, Director, Policy and Planning, Ministry of Health, who delivered the first presentation, explained that the health Insurance policy was part of the social policy with a focus on the poor and the vulnerable that could not afford medical care under the cash and carry system.

He said it was anticipated that, within the next five years, every resident in Ghana would belong to the Scheme, with the exemption of the members of the Armed Forces and the Police Service, who already belonged to a specialised form of health scheme as required by law. He, however, said workers in the formal sector who belonged to other health scheme would still have to contribute to the NHIS so the poor and vulnerable could access health care.

Dr Akor noted that, at present, a 10-year projection, (2003 to 2013) have been made under a national health budget to cater for the needs of the people.

He, however, said extra money would have to be sought to make the scheme truly universal and sustainable, by either exploring increasing the health levy, Social Security and national Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions or any other sources of funding.

Dr Princess Awoonor-Williams, an Economists and a Fellow of the IEA, who made a critique of the NHIS, said though the introduction was laudable, there were many questions to be answered.

She mentioned the possibility of identifying who really was poor and the rich, the impact of global health crisis on local supply, the subsidisation of pharmacies and traditional health providers, equitability, recruitment and training.

The Participants, which included Sociologists and Medical Officers, also called for collaboration between health providers and the managers of the Scheme to ensure smooth operations.

Dr Kwasi Jonah, Acting Head, Governance Centre, IEA, who moderated the discussion, said the event was held annually during which the Institute carried out to bring specialists together to deliberate on national issues.

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