The Ranking Member of Parliament’s Select Committee on Health, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, has cautioned government that the National Health Insurance Scheme risks collapse if allocations and resources are not provided consistently.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, he stated: “The National Health Insurance Scheme is collapsing not because of inadequate funds or inadequate legislation but purely as the result of poor public financial management of the fund.”
He added: “Although the scheme has struggled since its inception to meet claims of active members from service providers, the recent misapplication of funds collected as levies and SSNIT contributions for other government projects in addition to increases in non-core activities of the fund has placed the fund into medical comatose.
Parliament before it went on recess earlier this month, approved an allocation formula worth GH¢2bn but in approving the NHIF, parliament’s health committee was informed about government’s policy to cut the expenditure by 30percent from GH¢3.6bn to GH¢2.6bn.
During deliberation on the formula however, the health committee objected to the cut as it was not in line with the general 20percent expenditure cut announced by government.
The allocation was reviewed and the 30percent cut was eventually reviewed to 20percent as requested by the committee.
Mr. Akandoh also argued that the mandate of the state insurance scheme has changed over the years from the 2003 financing of basic healthcare services to persons resident in the country to the 2012 objective of providing universal health insurance coverage for all residents and persons on a visit to the country.
“Every health insurance scheme requires a constant flow from its funding streams and elbow room to invest a portion of its inflows if it were to stay viable, whilst meeting its mandate,” he stressed.
Furthermore, Mr. Akandoh, who is the Member of Parliament for Juaboso, accused the government of undermining the objective of the NHIS and adds that there is a concerted effort to build arrears into the future by paying very little to cover current claims on the fund.
This situation, he said, is untenable and, if not addressed, could accelerate and gradually collapse the fund.
“Because the government has failed to transmit NHIL funds collected from Ghanaians into the NHIF, the fund has resorted to disinvestment or withdrawals from its investment fund to deal with current liabilities. This has resulted in a situation in which an investment fund that had GH¢104.32 million as the closing balance for 2014 reduced to as low as GH¢80.13million in 2020 with interest income following the same trend of reducing from GH¢21.7million to GH¢5.18million in 2020,” he said.
The minority also stated at the presser that the mismanagement of the NHIS is affecting the survival of health facilities that offer treatment to national health insurance cardholders.
“As of the end of March 2022, service providers were owed over GH¢2.5bn due to non-payment of claims filed as far back as July 2021. If you consider the fact that we are experiencing a hyperinflationary period with March inflation year-on-year being reported to have inched closer to 20% one wonders how service providers who are owed as far back as last year are supposed to manage to keep their businesses afloat,” he noted.