-- Dr Edward Mahama
Medical practitioner and three-time presidential candidate of the PNC, Dr Edward Mahama has described the increase in hospital utilisation as a result of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS as an â€œachievement for the nation.â€ He noted that, â€œpeople who otherwise could not have access, now can access medical care.â€
According to him, the NHIS has bridged the financial accessibility gap that initially existed between the poor and those who could not pay, and the rich and those who could afford healthcare, thus allowing many more people to visit hospitals to seek treatment rather than turning to unorthodox sources for medical care.
Dr Nasigri Mahama, pointed out that the main barrier to hospital attendance and utilization is financial and more people will turn up at various health facilities should the cost of healthcare delivery be affordable. In the past, â€we all know that cash and carry was a deterrent to attend hospital, that is to say you could be dying at home and canâ€™t go to hospital because you donâ€™t have the money.Â Now you can go, present your card, and be seen. It means there is now access and affordability,â€ he remarked.
Dr Mahamaâ€™s comments come on the back of NPP flagbearerâ€™s criticism of the National Health Insurance Scheme and the countryâ€™s health system in general at the recently held IEA debate.
At the debate, Nana Addo blasted government that, â€œa three-fold increase in visitations by people to the hospital suggests rather that the people are getting sicker, not that they are getting better.â€
However, Dr Mahama who owns and operates a private hospital in Accra told CitiNews, Nana Addoâ€™s claims were erroneous. He explained that the cost of medical care remains a scorching issue for many households and consequently some of them turn to alternatives such as herbalists and other crude means of seeking healthcare.
Â â€œWhen you have many people turning up at the health centre it simply means that they now have access to get there,â€ he said.
Dr Mahamaa therefore suggested that with the arrival of the NHIS which appears to be gradually breaking the financial barrier to attending hospital for treatment, more visitations were to be expected. He claimed that, â€œthere is access, there is increase in utilisation. It is an achievement for the nation.â€
Dr Mahamaâ€™s view on the subject is in consonance with that expressed by government spokespersons who chided the NPP flagbearer for being untruthful on the true state of the nationâ€™s health and the impact the NHIS is having on millions of subscribers nationwide.
The National Health Insurance Authority, NHIA in its 2010 annual report indicated that out-patient utilization at hospitals across the country had increased from a little above nine million in 2008 to almost seventeen million in 2010. The NHIA itself attributed the increase in hospital visitation to efficient management of the scheme evidenced by confidence of subscribers in the health financing option.
The NHIA has also variously claimed that the more people attend hospital for treatment, the more likely they may be to understand their health and take better care of themselves; arguing that if the trend is sustained, the result may be a healthier, stronger and wealthier population.