The national health insurance scheme is one of the most positive legacies left behind by former president John Kufuor for the Ghanaian people. Even though it took him three years after his election to get the bill passed into law, he made sure Ghanaians would be attended to in hospitals even if their relatives were not at hand to deposit any money. This ensured the reduction in the rate of lost lives due to hospitals demanding deposits before commencing treatment. This used to be so even if the patients were accident victims.
Let’s now look at the national health insurance scheme and see whether it is living up to the dream that Kufuor had for it. In Kufuor’s dream, if every civil servant and worker in Ghana contributed two and half percent of their social security contributions to this fund, and a two and half percentage component is also deducted from the VAT that is accruing to the government and added, then with a little more funding from the central government’s national health insurance fund, there will be enough to deliver health services to the most ordinary citizens of Ghana. Years on now, is this what is obtainable is the question we should be asking.
Of the three categories of the national health insurance scheme, the district mutual health insurance scheme was the one meant to be operational in every district in Ghana. But is its presence really being felt in every district in Ghana right now? It is the one public and non commercial category that anybody that is resident in Ghana should be able to register under. Is this happening right now? It is the category that was expected to cater for people that were considered too poor, jobless and not having the basic necessities of life to be able to pay the premium. Is it doing that? These are the questions we should try to answer while looking at what is actually on ground.
We should not even go to the other two categories of private commercial health insurance scheme and the private mutual health insurance scheme, without having answered the questions already raised. The benefits of the national health insurance scheme as written on paper would have moved the Ghanaian health sector forward very well. But implementing the health scheme’s policies has been found to be wanting in certain instances.
There have even been reports of hospitals and pharmacies turning people away. Their reasons being, the national health insurance scheme owed them a lot of money. Bigger hospitals have sometimes issued public statements indicating they might be grounded if the national health insurance scheme does not settle their outstanding bills.
This is definitely not what John Kufuor had in mind when he conceived the idea of setting up the national health insurance scheme. But whatever he had in mind, those in authority at the Ghanaian national health insurance scheme program will be doing Ghana and all its citizens a great service if they will tell them where the national health insurance scheme in Ghana is headed.