The Chief Executive Officer of Premier Health Insurance Mr Percy Asare Ansah has debunked assertions that private health insurance is only for the elites within the society.
Even though he admitted that the initial products and services by the private insurance companies were targeted at the elites or companies, who were in the position to pay the premium, he was quick to add that a lot has changed and evolved.
“Everybody in Ghana needs quality healthcare, whether rich or poor. That is the more reason why we have designed products that will capture all segments of people in the society,” Mr Ansah said in an interview.
The Private Health Insurance system as it is today became an alternative health financing vehicle in the early late 90s to early 2000s.
It became even more popular after the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme in 2003.
Despite the years of operations by a number of private health insurance companies, hardly one percent of the country’s population have subscribed to private health insurance.
A good number of people perceive the private health insurance system as too expensive and would rather be with the national health insurance scheme which still remains a social interventionist policy by government to cater for the health needs of Ghanaians.
Is Private Health Insurance too expensive?
The Premier Health Insurance CEO said the private health insurance is more concerned about the quality and reliability of health delivery to clients.
He said healthcare delivery is generally expensive everywhere but the private health insurance companies have taken the economic conditions in the country into consideration and are adjusting the premiums and introducing products to meet the health needs of all.
According to him, Premier Health Insurance had to introduce new products to meet the healthcare needs of teachers and other workers on the government pay roll.
“When we started every health insurance provider was targeting corporate institutions who are able to pay the right premiums but private health insurance is for everyone in the country. Until Premier Health Insurance came in and targeted government workers who are able to pay from their salaries.
“We designed products to suit all income levels. So that if you have high income level we have a product for you, if you are a low income earner we still have a product that will still ensure the same kind of quality that you need,” he explained.
Extent of Coverage of Sickness
While there have been complaints about lack of coverage of some sicknesses for people who are on the national health insurance scheme, Mr Ansah said private health insurance takes care of everything.
“Private Health Insurance covers all diseases no matter the magnitude. Cancer, neurosurgeries, cardiac’s and all those complicated ailments. Sometimes we are able to fly our clients outside the country when the need be,” he added.
For an industry that relies heavily on imported drugs, Mr Ansah said their biggest challenge as an insurance company is the currency instability.
“We work with the hospitals. So every issue that affects hospitals in Ghana affects us. Most of the drugs are imported. Reagents used in labs are imported. The ones used by diagnostics are also imported. Unfortunately we don’t have a stable currency regime. So anytime the currency changes it affects our industry.
“Don’t forget you pay a premium which will last you for one insurance year. So if in the middle of the plan prices go up as a result of the cedi falling, you can’t tell the client to pay another premium,” he said.
He also cited increases in overheads in all areas of service delivery which invariably affects the cost of premiums.
“You need doctors to look after your people. If the clinicians are going out of the country how would you get the right people to look after your client,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Mr Ansah said the Private Health still remains the best option for health care financing in the country.
“You cannot toy with your health. God has not given you a second chance with your health. So if you don’t take care of yourself now (and you die) you don’t have a second life,” he said, adding private health insurance will ensure quality health care.