Residents of Upper East Region may soon start experiencing cash and carry system in healthcare delivery if the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) does not pay private healthcare providers in the a region some of their claims.
According to the healthcare providers “they will consider a gradual withdrawal of their services from next month if the NHIA fails to pay them.”
At a press conference yesterday in Bolgatanga, the Regional Chairman of the Association of Private Healthcare, Dr. Francis Asaanah, said people in at least five districts in that region would suffer if their services were withdrawn.
“Binduri, Pusiga, Timpane and Garu do not have hospitals and it is private people who have put health facilities there to take care of their health needs,” he said.
According to him, the current NHIA claims indebtedness was close to a year now and providers had submitted claims up to between December 2018 and February 2019.
He disclosed that their situation was dire as some hospitals had not been able to pay salaries for the past four months.
“This is because they rely solely on reimbursement from the NHIA to pay salaries and purchase other logistics for their operations.
“We want the Authority and government to consider making regular monthly payments to facilities as this will go a long way to ensure a smooth and constant provision of quality health care services,” he said.
He believed if this was adhered to, “it will prevent the frequent labour agitations and strike threats faced by managers of healthcare providers.”
Dr. Asaanah said due to the lack of funds, members of the Association were unable to satisfy their statutory obligation like SSNIT payment for their staff.
“SSNIT has sent almost all of us to court before and we needed to go and meet them to protect ourselves…Government needs to pat us on the back and see to it that these problems are solved so they will continue to serve the people,” he said.
For his part, a private healthcare provider, Thomas Moore, said most of the pharmaceutical suppliers only agree to give supplies for up to three months if they are given post-dated cheques.
“Most of our facilities have gone to court because of that because they give the cheques hoping that the NHIA will pay them and by the time it expires, you would have defaulted.
“If the payments were monthly, no matter how small it is, you will be able to plan…no facility here can do an expansion, you can’t buy new instruments because you don’t know when they will pay,” he said.
It would be recalled that last week a member of Health Committee of Ghana’s Parliament, Dr Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare, bemoaned the poor administration of the NHIS by the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Contributing to the debate on the proposed formula for the distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund for 2019, the Daffiama/Bussie/Issa, Member of Parliament (MP) said the scheme was collapsing under this administration and hence called on the government to do more to save it.
The NPP, he said, was bequeathed the National Health Insurance Scheme in very healthy conditions but “what are we seeing today, the declining active members of the scheme has worsen than ever.”
Passed into law in 2003, the scheme has been the backbone of health delivery for most citizens in the country for years now.
However, in recent times it has been bedevilled with many difficulties that have led to fears that the scheme faces a possible collapse.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU