The management of the National Health Insurance School [NHIS], has justified its plan to increase the National Health Insurance Levy from 2.5% to 3.5% of VAT.
It argues that the increment will help to address some of the teething challenges that have for so long bedeviled the Scheme.
The Scheme under the New Patriotic Party [NPP] administration, has been struggling with a GH¢100 million debt that is negatively affecting its operations.
Last week, some offices of the scheme halted the processing of new cards for interested persons due to a shortage of printing materials.
But the managers of the Scheme say they need to raise enough funding to help them run more efficiently.
In an interview on Eyewitness News on Monday, the Communications Manager of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Barimah Sarpong, said Ghana’s insurance scheme currently fell short of recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), in terms of spending on members of the scheme, noting that failure to raise monies for this purpose may cause the Scheme to collapse.
“Currently, as far as our financial strength can take us, we use about $30 to take care of each member on NHIS, but according to WHO’s guidelines, you need $86 to give each member basic healthcare, so if we are doing about $30 now, then, of course, there is the need to ensure that we take measures now to put NHIS on a level that it will be financially sustainable for the next 50 years. These are only proposals up for discussion… The parent problem of NHIS is a financial difficulty. Funding gap has been the reason why we are always in the news for non-payment of claims and our members being asked to top up at various health facilities,” he said.
While admitting that the Scheme was currently facing a lot of difficulties in its operation, he urged the public to exercise restraint as some of the challenges including shortage of logistics at the various regional officers will be addressed this week.
ICU to petition Parliament
Meanwhile, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has served notice it will petition Parliament to stop the National Health Insurance Authority [NHIA], from increasing the NHIS levy.
The General Secretary of the ICU, Solomon Kotei, told Citi News that, there are other viable revenue generation strategies for the NHIA, and that the Authority should begin by blocking loopholes in its system instead of raising levies.
Highlighting some challenges hampering the NHIA’s efforts at increasing revenue, Mr. Kotei said: “There has been a lot of malfeasance going on at the NHIA, and it’s not been made known to us through investigation. We were informed that a lot of people ran away to some countries. Have they retrieved those monies or it is gone for good? We have people who are benefiting from the NHIA who don’t contribute anything to it. I am referring to people from Cote D’lvoire, Togo, Nigeria and India.”
This is not the NHIA’s first attempt at increasing the levy. In September 2017, the NHIA indicated that, it had made a proposal to the government to levy tobacco and alcohol to fund the scheme.
The Authority had explained that, the proposal was one of the options of finding additional sources of funding to sustain the policy, since the 2.5 percent NHIS levy collected under the Value Added Tax (VAT), and the 2.5 percentage Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions appear to be adequate.
By: Jonas Nyabor/citifmonline.com/Ghana