NHIS subscribers deserve benefits

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced in the country in 2001 to deal with the financial hardship among the populace that had become a barrier to their access to even basic healthcare services.

Prior to 2001, access to healthcare was by the cash-and-carry system.

 Under the system, charges differed at the various health facilities and because regulation of such charges was not properly done, the system worsened access to care by the poor.

Therefore, the NHIS was hailed as a saviour but in no time subscribers started complaining about challenges they were facing.

There were such complaints as patients being asked to buy even drugs on the NHIS medicine list and also being charged for services they were entitled to for free.

Others were and still crying for certain services like treatment of all cancers to be covered.

Sadly, in this country, the opinions of the masses are usually ignored except in elections, so such complaints have not yet been heeded.

It is, thus, God-send that the Minister of Health, Mr KwakuAgyeman-Manu, a bigwig, has called for an end to the extortion of money from NHIS subscribers by some health service providers in the country before they would offer them even services covered by the NHIS.

The minister’s example of some pregnant women having to pay GHC1000 to undergo Caesarian Section (CS) even though that service is covered by the NHIS captures the inhumane treatment being meted out to patients in certain health facilities, including public ones.

Mr Agyeman-Manu’s single expression of worry about some charges for healthcare in the country must be seen as the collective voice of the voiceless patients and their families and so the problem must be tackled.

We hope the minister himself would lead the crusade to clamp down on perpetrators and bring some relief to patients and their families.

After all, the NHIS was introduced to eliminate the financial barrier to healthcare created by the cash-and-carry system.

Therefore, anything done to deny NHIS subscribers their legitimate benefits is a sabotage and subtle attempt to reintroduce the cash-and-carry system and so must be tackled head-on.

While we say this, we hope challenges with the management of the NHIS such as delays in payments to the health facilities should be addressed to give it its true status as a healthcare financial burden reliever.
Besides practices in health facilities undermining the NHIS are others which are more serious and can even be deadly and so must be tackled with the needed urgency and speedy sanctions.

Why should any health professional or facility think of administering fake medication and falsified drugs to patients?

We welcome the Food and Drugs Authority’s planned naming and shaming of health facilities engaged in such acts because the health of every Ghanaian must be safeguarded.

We also wish to appeal to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to do all it can to stop alleged extortions by some doctors and nurses before they care for patients.

The GHS must also see to regulate areas it can to ensure a good national healthcare system for all Ghanaians.

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