NHIS Currently Unsustainable - Dr. Ayew Afriyie

Vice Chairman for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie has said that the condition in which the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) finds itself now makes it difficult to serve its purpose for Ghanaians.

According to him, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has reached a point where it is no longer sustainable until there is an increment in the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) to make the scheme serve the purpose it was set up for.

Speaking on Okay FM’s 'Ade Akye Abia' Morning Show, Dr. Ayew Afriyie bemoaned that the NHIS is quickly losing its essence of providing free healthcare for all Ghanaians as arrears accumulated by the previous government are making the scheme dysfunctional.

“Ghanaians who visit public health facilities pay more now and so we have to increase the NHIL so that we can pay the debts left behind by the NDC and move the scheme back to the way former President Kufuor left it to the extent that there was monthly payment to the hospital facilities; there were constant free medicines,” he bemoaned.

He maintained that the NPP government is paying arrears and they have paid up to last year July; reiterating that the NDC paid up to last year January, meaning that for one year no hospital was paid under Mahama-led NDC government whereas under Kufuor, hospitals were paid every two months.

He therefore suggested that insofar as the NHIL must be increased even at least by one percent, government can take the tax from employers if not from every Ghanaian in order to sustain the scheme.

The Effiduase-Asokore lawmaker added that he is prepared as an employer to pay that one percent for all his 150 staff to make the scheme effective again as the government will not pretend that it is giving free healthcare in public institutions while old people are being asked to pay cash before accessing healthcare.

He however averred that even though he stands by the idea that NHIL must be increased, he will oppose it for now as Ghanaians must feel comfortable economically first before the tax can be introduced to the people.

“. . We can tell Ghanaians that even this year we have not paid any hospital; we are only paying arrears and we have done so up to last year July . . . the NHIS has reached a point where it is unsustainable, not until we increase the NHIL and if we won’t tax all Ghanaians, we must tax the employers so that the poor in the society can benefit,” he suggested.

He recapped that “addressing the health needs of the poor is the essence of the NHIS; risk equalization as those who can afford will pay for the poor and the indigenes but that is not the situation . . . we must be sad but if we decide to increase the tax for Ghanaians, I will oppose it, though I stand for it to be increased.”