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NHIA Officials Disagree On One-Time Premium Amount   
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Sylvester Mensah
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Two top officials of the National Health Insurance Authority have been contradicting themselves on reports that government has pegged the one-time health insurance premium at GHS100.00.

The Deputy Director in charge of Public Affairs at the Authority, Mr Eric Ametor-Quarmyne, told Joy News’ Sammy Darko that government has settled on GHS100.00 for the one-time premium on the health insurance as promised by the Mills-led government in its 2008 manifesto.

He however emphasized that “this one hundred is not the actuarially determined one that should be paid by subscribers.” He said even though the GHS100.00 is not enough to finance health care for individuals, government will take care of the short falls through budgetary allocations and the national health insurance levy.

He explained that latest by September this year, the one-time premium will become operational and those whose annual subscriptions have not expired will stay on until the end of the year.

Asked whether he thinks people can afford the premium, Mr. Ametor-Quarmyne said “this is a fair amount which the actuarial department has determined. It is possible for people to pay if they actually prioritise their needs and health [care].”

But Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Mr. Sylvester Mensah, told Joy FM, it is not entirely accurate that government has adopted the GHS100.00 one-time premium.

He said the authority is still proposing which amount to be charged, stressing that “government has not yet confirmed the amount so it is inaccurate to say that government has confirmed a certain amount.”

He revealed though, that the Authority is proposing between a GHS100.00 and GHS200.00. Mr. Mensah said the Authority is working with government to ensure that the amount to be approved can give all Ghanaians “financial access to health care” in the country.

He however stated that the one-time premium would be rolled out by September “or may be earlier.”

Succumbing to political whims

Former Minister of Health under the erstwhile Kufuor administration, Dr. Richard Anane is however of the view that government’s decision is flawed as he believes the one-time premium will not be successful.

He said there was no reason why the issue should be up for discussion at this time as the necessary deliberations have not been completed. He said government would be better served in coming out to concede that the one-time premium will not work.

Dr. Anane said “health insurance and its survivability is an issue not on a partisan platform but it’s for a national discussion an a consensus building. We tried to clarify for government that it is not a political issue and therefore if we have had to even make certain statements which may have to be withdrawn, there should be no shame in withdrawing such statements.”

He faulted the CEO for coming out to discuss the issues surrounding the premium when the matter is still under cabinet consideration.

Dr. Anane said “we do not think that it is going to be helpful for us to be plundering to political thinking and then rushing to institute the one time premium payment, which to be fair, has been tried by only one country in the world – Australia.”

Explaining his [position, Dr. Anane said even if government were to put the premium at “GHS 200 for the entire population to pay, it may not last for more than seven years.”

He stated that government will have to increase taxes and levies in order to successfully fund the one-time premium which will mean that government will need to have a comprehensive data of all Ghanaians in order to make the process workable, a situation he believes is not possible at these present times.

He said it is not a concept that government should consider because some people find it hard to even pay the present annual premiums, insisting that it will push people away from accessing health care in the country.
Source: myjoyonline.com

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