08.05.2005 Health

Residents of New Juaben embrace Health Insurance Scheme

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Koforidua, May 8, GNA - Within the past two weeks, large numbers of residents of the New Juaben Municipality had been rushing to register with the Municipal Health Insurance Scheme after its launch. During the past week, the scheme was registering an average of 250 persons per day and on one occasion it registered 370 people a day. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on Friday, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the scheme, Mr Joseph Nii Commey, attributed the high figures being recorded to rumours circulating in the area to the effect that the scheme was going to stop the registration of new members after its launching on April 28, this year.

He said the high numbers was putting a lot of pressure on the logistics and staff of the scheme, saying, the staff currently was made up of five permanent employees and four national service personnel. Mr. Commey called for some additional staff to replace the service personnel after August when their service term ends to enable them to cope with the high registration of members.

He said since Tuesday, May 3, the registered members of the scheme had started enjoying their benefit package from the 12 public health institutions in the New Juaben Municipality, including the Regional Hospital and the St Joseph's Hospital.

Mr Commey said at the moment, the registered cards of the members had been given out to the premium collectors to distribute to the people in their communities and houses as a means to stop them from rushing to the office of the scheme for their cards. He said for the efficient administration of the scheme, the municipality had been divided into 71 communities, adding that completed identity cards of 28 communities had been given out to their premium collectors for distribution.

The PRO said with the launching of the scheme, newly registered members would have to wait for three months from the date they took their pictures for their identity cards before they start to benefit from the scheme while SSNIT contributors had to wait for two weeks for the processing of their registration cards.

Mr Commey said the problem facing the scheme now was reconciling the birthdays with SSNIT numbers provided by some people, saying when the scheme officials cross-checked, some of the data given were found to be wrong.

Mr. Commey said students who are benefiting from the SSNIT loan scheme were also registering with their SSNIT numbers, which technically exempted them from payment of the premium, even though they were not yet active contributors to the SSNIT scheme.

He said almost all the 68 Health Insurance Committees put in place for the decentralization in the administration of the scheme were not active, except those at the Zongos.

Mr Commey said the management of the scheme was considering how to review the membership of the committees to make them more effective. He said there was a lot of pressure on the funds that the scheme had mobilized from the members while waiting for support from the National Health Insurance Fund.

Mr Commey said at the time of the launching, the scheme had registered 13,565 members of which only 2,500 were in the informal sector who paid their premium.

He said 5,740 of the registered members were under 18 years , 1,655 registered members were people above 70 years, SSNIT pensioners were 320 while SSNIT contributors were 3,350.

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