The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Samuel Annor, has given a strong indication the authority will soon stop all forms of unauthorized payments by service providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Addressing labour unions in Bolgatanga on Monday as part of his working visit to the Upper East Region, the CEO, expressed fear that if the authority does not stop unauthorized payments, the scheme could be abused and Ghanaians taken back to the ‘cash and carry’ system which he describes as the worse monster anybody can ever think of.
Dr. Annor said it is unfortunate all manner of unauthorized payments including what has been christened as “co-payment” have been slapped on subscribers for a long period because government was hugely indebted to services providers.
“Now, all these things have been going on because we have not been able to pay the service providers on time. But now that we are putting our house in order, now that we are starting to pay them, we are going to send a message loud and clear to them that, all unauthorized payments, we need to stop.
What is happening now is unauthorized payment. Some people are clamouring for official co-payment. But we as an authority, we do not want to support this official co-payment because we know that it is going to be abused.” He declared.
Official co-payment means that if a patient visits a facility, they would share the cost of treatment with the service provider even if their conditions are included in the NHIS treatment list.
Recalling what happened in the past, Dr. Annor, said: “Remember, before we got to cash and carry, it was co-payment. You paid a little bit and you accessed health but, it was so abused it got to a point the government didn’t find any use of it and so the government decided to say that just put in your cash and you take your service.”
We never want to go to cash and carry. It’s the worse monster anybody can ever think of. So because of our history, we want to avoid any form of co-payment even be it one cedis.”
The Gynecologist described as unethical, situations where physicians demand cash payment before they attend to their clients, and said the only way to avoid this is to make the system efficient and attractive so that every Ghanaian would be encouraged to subscribe.
Touching on long queues that characterise the NHIS offices across the country, Dr. Annor disclosed that his authority would soon introduce mobile money payment system to allow subscribers to renew their memberships by simply paying through mobile money service.
According to him, the NHIA in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation has piloted the system which was successful.
“Very soon, very soon, you have to renew your membership at the comfort of your home provided you can transfer money from your phone.” He said.
He also said the core mandate of staff of the scheme at all the 175 service outlets in the country will change as soon as mobile money payment system is introduced.
“In fact, the board has approved that we increase our satellite offices to every constituency in the country. So it’s going to be more of a service outlet not for you to go and queue and make a card or renew your card but more of it if you have a problem, how we can assist you.” He said.
Dr. Annor’s meeting with the labour unions was preceded by a courtesy call on the regiona minister, Mr. Rockson Ayine Bukari. He later visited Amiha Hospital, a private hospital in Bolgatanga before visiting the Bolgatanga Municipal scheme.
Brother (Dr.) Anthony Yaw Baah, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress, who was part of the visiting team welcomed all the new ideas the NHIA intends to implement but disagreed with a proposed 1% increment of subscribers contributions especially his members.