Government Approves Restructuring Of The NHIS…Minister Inaugurates Technical Committee

Health Minister, Honourable Alex Segbefia on Thursday commissioned a comprehensive review of the NHIS. The restructuring is the first ever since the Scheme was set-up over a decade ago. According to him, the review process will propose options for reform. He said at the end of the 5-month review process, “His Excellency the President expects a blueprint for the NHIS that is national in character and would transcend political transitions.” He stated that “in the growth and expansion of the NHIS it is time to explore all other options of sustaining the scheme in the context of the health system”. The Minister added that, “this will require taking a holistic look at the Scheme to determine where weaknesses exist and propose solutions. Based on the forgoing, His Excellency the President of the Republic has approved a process of reviewing the NHIS with a view to proposing options for reform,” he said. Mr Segbefia in inaugurating a 7-man technical committee to undertake the NHIS restructuring exercise said the process will seek to provide answers to questions such as the current status of the scheme in terms of its financial sustainability, what factors have contributed to the status quo, what needs to be done to bring permanent resolution to the issues identified and which persons or institutions need to take action and what resources are required for execution. The technical team is to be chaired by Dr Chris Atim, a senior health economist who played a pioneering role in the pilot stages of health insurance in Ghana. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA). Other committee members include Dr Victor Bampoe, Deputy Health Minister, Dr Obeng Apori, Chief Executive of the Ridge Hospital, Accra and Mr Peter Yeboah, Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG). The rest are Prof Irene Agyepong of the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Dr Huihui Wang, an Economist with the World Bank and Nathaniel Otoo, acting Chief Executive of the NHIA. The NHIS has been running a funding gap since 2009, a situation which arose because of design and structural weaknesses of the Scheme. Cost of providing medical care, the Minister said has increased exponentially since the Scheme started full operation in 2005. According to the NHIA, the Scheme’s average expenditure on claims alone in a month is 90 million Ghana cedis. The NHIA in 2014 paid a total of 1.077 billion Ghana cedis in claims compared to 7.6 million cedis in 2005, and it is projected that cost of claims will top 1.5 billion in 2015. The NHIS currently has a membership of 10.54 million. The technical team will present a report to an Advisory Committee to be made up of both local and international experts, academia, legislators, civil society and provider representatives. These include Hon Joseph Yieleh Chireh, MP, Hon Dr Richard Anane, MP, Hon Mohammed Muntaka, MP, Hon Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, MP, Prof Agyemang Badu Akosa, former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Prof Frimpong Boateng, formerly of the Korle bu Teaching Hospital, Hon Nuamah Donkor, a former Health Minister and 11 others. The Minister concluded with the hope that the review “once completed and implemented would translate into the establishment of a continually sustainable, pro-poor, efficient and dynamic NHIS based on knowledge and information.”