Prof Aaron Asibi Abuosi — Professor of Health  Policy and Management, University of Ghana Business School
Prof Aaron Asibi Abuosi — Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of Ghana Business School

Graphic National Development Series: Review NHIS — Prof. Abuosi

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) must be reviewed to make it sustainable, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) has urged.


Prof. Aaron Asibi Abuosi pointed out that the review should take into consideration the growth of the population, the exempt category and the revenue sources. He said even though the current hybrid model of the scheme was good, the magnitude of the issues could not sustain it unless a review was done.

“If we look at the growth of the population, we look at  exempt category, and we look at the revenue sources, we need to confront the issue because the health insurance must survive.

“Look at the structure of it, where all those who are 18 years are supposed to pay a premium, then you look at the exempt category where all women who are pregnant and those 70 years and above are exempted and then look at the amount of premium. It is nothing to write home about,” he explained.

Development series

Prof. Abuosi said this at the first Graphic National Development Series (GNDS) for 2024 held in Accra yesterday. The series, which was on the theme: “Quality Health For All,” was the second in the series to be organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), with support from the Ghana Shippers Authority.

The maiden edition of the GNDS was held in Kumasi in April last year on the theme: "Transforming Ghana's Agriculture using home-grown solutions for food security." It is a forum that delves into development issues with a focus on shaping ideas, building consensus on strategic issues and ultimately influencing policy.

Speaking on the topic, “Putting health in the reach of the ordinary Ghanaian - the how,” Prof. Abuosi said although NHIS was a very important intervention to help attain universal health coverage, a look at the structure and reviewing it would go a long way to sustain it.

He asked whether the 2.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), which was one of the main sources of revenue, was even enough, adding that when it is increased so much it would become an aggressive tax because it would be transferred to consumers of products, leading to the high cost of living.

For that reason, he said the review should be carefully done. His presentation also highlighted the need to move away from the kind of health care where health workers assumed to know everything while patients were just passive recipients of care who did not contribute to policy and other interventions concerning their health.

He stressed the need to find out whether what was being said about maternal mortality was a reflection of the reality on the ground and also about the doctor-patient ratio. A former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, stressed that if the NHIS was underpinned by the primary healthcare concept, it would not be facing the current financial challenges.

He explained that if everybody decided to walk up to teaching hospitals and bigger health facilities for healthcare services, the cost per head would go up as compared to the gatekeeper system, where one would have to start from the lowest care facility closest to them before being referred to a bigger facility if need be.

Non-partisan discourse

The Managing Director of the GCGL, Ato Afful, said periodically the country had faced economic and other developmental hurdles, but in finding solutions, every national construct was framed in a partisan political cloth that obscured the relevant issues that otherwise required dispassionate treatment.

The nation, he said, had subsequently been denied the benefits of holding balanced, informed ideas for national consensus, especially as people who did not want to be politically tied abstained from the discourse.

Being thus minded, he said the governance series was created to be the go-through platform for both citizens and netizens who had relevant contributions to make to influence national policy to do so without the fear of being tied to a political party.

A representative of the Minister of Health, Dr Wisdom A. Tiwoto, commended the GCGL for leading the discussion on the issue of quality health care.

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