Ghanaians to pay more for their health

Posted: March 5, 2010 in Health

An analysis conducted by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), in respect of the one-time insurance premium payment, has revealed that Ghanaians would have to pay more under the new scheme, yet to be implemented by the government, in order to enjoy quality health delivery.

Against the backdrop of a medium annual premium of GH¢27.60, a person entering the new scheme at the age of eighteen (18) would have to pay a one-time insurance premium of GH¢678 whilst those at the age of thirty (30) years would have to pay GH¢587.

Similarly, those at the age of fifty (50) years would have to pay GH¢365, as against GH¢240 for those at sixty (60) years. This was revealed in Parliament yesterday, when the Member of Parliament for Sunyani East, Mr Kwasi-Cheremeh, enquired from the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, whether actuarial analysts relating to the one-time payment of insurance premium had been done, and what the findings were.

Mr Mettle-Nunoo was representing the substantive Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kumbour, who, according to the Majority Leader, Cletus Avoka, was touring some parts of the Northern Region, in connection to the recent outbreak of the Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) in the region.

According to him, those on level of the one-time premium to be charged, is yet to be fixed, a situation he said, illustrates that “the one-time premium cannot be clearly charged at the present value of all future payment, but rather at a rate that reflects the social and economic conditions of the informal sector workers, who have been presently excluded.”

That notwithstanding, the Deputy Health Minister said the results further showed that projections of the information sector coverage, would increase approximately by 30% in 2009, to 80% in 2018 under the one-time premium, if managers of the scheme assume a flat one-time payment of GH¢50 for informal sector members, irrespective of age, which could be introduced by 2011.

To further buttress his argument, Mr Mettle-Nunoo said the result of the actuarial analysis showed that without introducing the one-time premium payment, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) would experience a negative balance in 2010, when the program expenditure is expected to exceed revenue, adding “its reserves will be quickly used up in subsequent years and get depleted in 2016.”

“an actuarially determined one-time premium, based on the current annual premiums, will give rise to amounts beyond the pockets of most Ghanaians. A one-time premium payment within the reach of most Ghanaians, the study found, will result in the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) reserve getting depleted one year earlier than anticipated, that is 2015,” Mr Mettle-Nunoo emphasised.

According to him, the Ministry of Health, aware of the challenges it may encounter in introducing the new scheme (one-time premium payment), was undertaking a number of reform programs to pave the way for its smooth implementation, which includes improving the use of standard treatment guidelines, and rational prescription by service providers to reduce cost of treatment, and undertake legal review aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs.

The Ministry of Health, Mr Mettle-Nunoo said, would also improve the logistics management system in the sector, to bring down the cost of inputs such as medicines and consumables, and reform the claims management process to reduce connivance and wastage from lack of capacity.

It would also explore sources of additional funding, to further build up the NHIF reserve, and make the NHIS sustainable, even after the introduction of the one-time premium payment. As to how long would it take his outfit to conclude the reform process, Mr Mettle-Nunoo said a review would be done, and the new proposal presented to Parliament for consideration, adding, “it is only when the Parliament has approved the review, that it will come into effect.”

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