Expand NHIS coverage to cover cancer diseases – Ghanaians urge NHIA
A research work conducted by CUTS International with support from Open Society Initiatives West Africa (OSIWA) has revealed that 52% of Ghanaian subscribers’ of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) want the disease coverage under the scheme reviewed to cover cancers as the same has recorded a surge in recent times.
The research, which was carried out in 5 regions, revealed that majority of Ghanaians want government and National Health Insurance Authority to as a matter of urgency take a second look at the diseases that are covered under the scheme.
Presenting key highlights of the research findings in Accra, the West African Director of CUTS, Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako said it’s time for government to review and revamp the National Health Insurance Scheme to deliver on its mandate.
“In the last few weeks, many Ghanaians have resorted to social media to seek financial support to cater for various cancer treatments. The cost of cancer treatment is quite expensive and it has become a death sentence for those who get the disease. In most instances, some of the cancer victims die before even the cancer kills them. In the short term, the scheme can start providing subsidy until the scheme completes its actuarial assessment for adding cancer treatment to the scheme.”
Mr. Appiah Kusi Adomako recommended that government should ensure regular transfers to the scheme and review the tariff list to allow facilities to provide optimal health care to subscribers. This he believes could curb the out-of-pocket payment situation which has characterized the scheme as about 69% of respondents surveyed indicated that they had made an out-of-pocket payment in the past year.
“While I applaud government for the improvement on health financing under the scheme, I urge that the challenges that have characterized the smooth implementation of the scheme, including; delays in transfer by the government and the NHIS to service providers, charging of illegal fees, and abuse of clients by some health worker should be addressed” he added.
On his path, the Head of Research at CUTS, Mr. Isaac Yaw Obeng disclosed that although the National Health Insurance Authority has done a lot of work to improve the Scheme, some challenges still persist, hindering the effectiveness of the scheme. These include fraud, limited funding, information asymmetries, delay in payments of claims, and poor service quality.
Mr. Obeng added that the National Health Insurance Authority did not have a clear cut customer complaints or resource policies written down for customers to follow. He therefore recommended that the NHIS developed a clear-cut strategy and procedure for redress monitoring and conduct regular need-assessment to ensure that the diverse healthcare needs of subscribers were met.
“In light of this, the study recommends increased funding, better monitoring, and evaluation processes, developing a clear-cut strategy and procedure mechanisms, a continued reduction in out-of-pocket payment, expanding coverage of the scheme, and conducting a regular needs assessment to ensure that subscribers’ healthcare needs are being met,” he added.