Jail NHIS fund looters, fines too lenient – NHIA CEO
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Samuel Annor, has called for tougher punishments for persons who steal monies belonging to the Authority.
According to him, imprisoning the perpetrators, regardless of the amounts involved will serve as a deterrent to persons who indulge in such acts.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday Dr. Annor said the current laws that regulate the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) “are weak” thus making it easy for people to loot from the coffers of the Authority.
He added that because of the weak laws, persons who are caught stealing the NHIA’s monies are usually sentenced to pay what he described as “peanut” fines by the courts.
“…Human beings are human beings, you don’t put a meat before a dog and tell the dog not to eat the meat, so you have to make sure that you make the rules and regulations so difficult to steal,” he said.
When asked which people steal the NHIA’s funds, Dr. Annor mentioned service providers, internal staff “and everybody who gets the opportunity because the system has not been well disciplined enough.”
“The law is weak; the law treats crime against our health money like any crime. So if somebody steals banana he might as well have stolen GHc20,000 from the NHIA fund – the two of them will be treated the same – because both are crimes and both are punishable by probably about 250 penalty units according to the law.”
“And the judge would have the option to either fine or add some imprisonment or both. And most of the time, after the trial goes on for almost about six or seven years, the persons are just given little fines. For somebody who has committed a crime, that fine is peanut – he will pay and commit the crime again. But as a nation we should be able to say that there should be compulsory imprisonment for whoever commits crimes against our health funds as most nations do,” he added.
The NHIA boss noted that most developed nations do not take their health funds lightly, adding that “if you go anywhere near their health funds you will be in jail, you will not be given a fine and asked to go home.”
Dr. Annor took over the administration of the debt-ridden NHIA some nine months ago.
According to him, the governing New Patriotic Party has so far paid about GHc900 million out of the GHc1.2 billion debt they inherited at the NHIA.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Annor, among other things, proposed a four-point agenda which, if addressed immediately, he believes could help revamp the health insurance scheme and put it on a better pedestal for growth.
The proposal includes a change in NHIA’s finance model, making the manual processing of claims electronic, instituting tight quality assurance measures as well as the strengthening of the laws governing the scheme.