The Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), has commended President John Mahama for the decision to allocate a portion of the oil revenue to the Scheme, describing it as “forward looking” and a step in the right direction.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on the status of the NHIS, Mr. Otoo said the President’s statement is a welcome call and one that will provide respite for the Scheme.
“His Excellency the President’s recent announcement to commit a portion of the oil revenue to the NHIS is gratifying as it provides a significant prospect to address the issues of sustainability,” the NHIS boss averred. The NHIS is mainly funded by taxes and deductions from social security contributions.
Premium payment, according to the NHIA, accounts for less than 4% of the Scheme’s revenue base. In the last few years, the subject of the sustainability of the Scheme has become topical.
Administrators of the Scheme, have maintained that given the steady growth of the scheme and the global trend of healthcare financing, a review of NHIS’ funding sources was important to support the expansion of the Scheme.
President Mahama at a recent event in Accra, mentioned that he will push for the allocation of petroleum revenue for the funding of the NHIS. According to him, there is the need to rework the sustainability of the Scheme, hence the need to “look for new sources of funding for the National Health Insurance.”
Thus he said, “My proposal is that a percentage of the annual budget funding amount that comes from petroleum revenues should be allocated to the National Health Insurance Scheme.”
This commitment by the President is what the NHIA top man described as progressive. “This is forward looking and an indication that the known challenge of delays in claims payment occasioned by the inadequacy of funds from the traditional funding sources, could be dealt with,” an optimistic Mr. Otoo stated.
The NHIS currently has a membership of 11.3 million members with an average of 40,000 people either joining or renewing their membership daily. This huge number and the accompanying cost of their healthcare, arguably puts a lot of strain on the kitty of the Scheme, especially as about 70% of these people by law do not pay premiums.
The categories of people who do not pay premiums include the poor, persons below 18 years, aged, pregnant women among others. Health sector players have lauded the President’s promise, and have said it will allow the NHIS some more financial muscle to support its operations. Mr. Otoo mentioned that, the NHIA in recent years has employed technology in addressing many of the challenges it has faced.
He named the introduction of paperless NHIS registration which saves the Scheme about 6 million cedis annually, introduction of Provider Unique Identification, electronic identification of the poor and vulnerable persons for enrolment onto NHIS, the expansion of Clinical Audit capacity among many others.
A new product, the multi-year registration for NHIS members, which allows NHIS members the option to renew their membership for 2, 3 or 4 years, was launched on the same day.