By Victoria Soglo
The Health Ministry has announced plans to increase tariffs for the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIS) by 20 percent before the end of 2019.
This comes after the Authority proposed an upward adjustment of the user fees for service providers
At the time, the government indicated that calls for the increment were premature because negotiations were still ongoing.
At the meet the press today [Thursday], sector minister Kwaku Agyemang said the increment falls in line with government’s commitment to eliminate the financial barriers associated with universal health coverage.
“Our key strategy to achieve financial access to healthcare is our NHIS. As a result of the efficiency gains, the Authority is in the position to increase service tariffs by 2o percent this year. The new tariffs came into effect on 1st April 2019. Providers were complaining about what they pay them for seeing our registered patients. By the close of June 2019, sub-district facilities and below would be able to enhance our achievement of Universal Health Care.”
“We are concentrating on taking healthcare to the last bite so we are working to the extent that by the end of June this year all facilities below district level will be paid everything Health Insurance owes them and their bills will now be paid according to the law [Three months in arrears; that is what the law says] I will make sure we will live up to this throughout so that all of us will have access to healthcare without financial barriers,” he added.
The tariff represents fees paid to service providers per visit to an NHIS-accredited facility with an annual review to reflect market price changes.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)Dr. Samuel Annor has warned that the NHIS may suffer because of financing challenges.
Responding to concerns from Health Insurance Providers Association that the NHIS would be dead in a year’s time, he said: “I wouldn’t say die but we would not be rendering the service we are supposed to render. Between 2009 and now, we have just been piling debts,”
The NHIA CEO has long held that the scheme had run out of funds to operate. As a result, the scheme may be dysfunctional in 2019.
“Unauthorised payments will continue, people being turned away or being asked to go and buy drugs or some health things that they will need for care would also continue… all these things will continue unless we solve the financing situation.”
As it stands now, the NHIS has GHc1.2 billion to look after 11 million Ghanaians. This works up to about GHc 110 per person
However, Dr. Annor noted that the ideal is $86 dollars per person a year but “we are way short of what is expected and that is why the scheme is wobbling.”
The authority has also advocated for the National Health Insurance Levy to be raised from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent with a 1 percent contribution from citizen’s incomes.