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Where is the one - term premium for the NHIS?

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 Source: Sayibu, Akilu

For the records, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced into the country by the New Patriotic Party under President John Kufour. The need to introduce the NHIS was occasioned by the untimely and avoidable deaths that Ghanaians were facing as a result of having to pay cash before health care was delivered to them irrespective of the seriousness of their condition.

The scenario was like having a mobile phone but unable to make a call irrespective of the urgency of the call without airtime. It was called ‘Cash and Carry’ in the health parlance, meaning pay cash before treatment is carried on you or die helplessly.

When it was finally established by the NPP, not only did it create employment for Ghanaians, it also for the first time in many years made health care delivery accessible and affordable to Ghanaians.

Having to die out of ‘Cash and Carry’ was consigned to history. Doctors and Nurses as well as other health workers were so very happy with the NPP. Ghanaians fasted and thanked God for bringing NPP to power and giving its leadership the wisdom of introducing the Scheme.

What must also be put on record is that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under whose nose the Scheme is collapsing now opposed it. They described the idea to introduce it as a myth and only comparable to carrying Mountain Everest unaided!

So when the bill to introduce the NHIS was sent to Parliament, the NDC led by the current President whose election is currently a case at the Supreme Court boycotted it. They walked out of parliament amidst dancing Azonto!

When it was finally made a law and passed, members of the NDC and their families were among the first to rush to the offices of the NHIS for their cards. They quickly woke up from their slumber realising that NHIS was doable and has indeed been done by the NPP.

With the current NHIS, a premium is paid subject to annual renewals. That was how the NPP which introduced it packaged it. Then the NDC in campaigning for political power in 2007 started claiming unprecedented knowledge of the NHIS and told Ghanaians to vote for them to strengthen what they didn’t introduce in the first place. They indeed promised that the annual premium which was being paid for the NHIS by Ghanaians was to be replaced with a single payment of a life time!

I have lived, studied and worked in the United Kingdom were the NHS is hugely a success with its premium taken weekly and monthly from wages of residents. Even there, the premium is not one term. It is not one term in America. I don’t even know of any jurisdiction where payment of the premium is one term as was being promised in Ghana by the NDC.

Now the NHIS is formally in trouble in Ghana. Missionary Hospitals made it clear a couple of days ago that they were NEVER going to attend to patients who came to their facilities for treatment without CASH! What this means is that, we are officially back to the CASH and CARRY mode of health delivery in Ghana and the consequences are stirring at us in the face.

It is a huge shame that this laudable idea of Health delivery is allowed to be bedevilled with such avoidable problem of such gargantuan proportion. Posterity will NEVER forgive us if we allow the NHIS to collapse in Ghana.

God personally will not forgive the government of the NDC if they continue to supervise the collapse of this life-saving Scheme.

The NDC government must bury its pride and get in touch with the NPP to teach them how all the problems confronting the NHIS can be addressed for the good of mother Ghana.

It is unacceptable that Ghana is now oil producing country yet we can’t even take care of the health needs of our citizenry. It is unacceptable in all proportions and something should be done about it and now!!!

Meanwhile, can Ghanaians be told when the one-term premium of the NHIS will be introduced by the government of the NDC?

Akilu Sayibu

Email: Akilu.Sayibu@live.uwe.ac.uk

Columnist: Sayibu, Akilu