NHIS mobile membership renewal service to be launched soon

BY: Kobby Asmah & Victor Kwawukume
Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, Deputy CEO in charge of Operations, NHIA
Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, Deputy CEO in charge of Operations, NHIA

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is ready to roll out the mobile membership renewal service of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

When it becomes operational, all registered members of the scheme, approximately 11 million, can use the service to check the status of their NHIS membership eligibility, the NHIS benefit package and the NHIS medicines list.

The service will be formally launched next week, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in charge at Operations of the NHIA, Dr Lydia Baaba Dsane-Selby, has disclosed.

She said the service, which would be rolled out in phases throughout the country, was currently being piloted in the Asuogyaman and the West Mamprusi districts in the Eastern and the Upper West regions, respectively.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic last Monday, Dr Dsane-Selby explained that the NHIA had introduced the innovative NHIS mobile membership renewal as part of efforts to make registration to access health care friendlier, more convenient and hassle-free.

Currently, she said, the NHIA was testing the option to allow members to complete their annual membership renewal comfortably and safely from their mobile phones to reduce waiting time.

Read also: Review NHIS financing module to prevent collapse — Dr Annor

NHIA team

The Deputy CEO was part of a top management team from the NHIA, led by the CEO, Dr Samuel Annor, who paid a visit to the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) last Monday and took part in the Editorial Conference of the Daily Graphic that day.

Other members of the team were the Deputy CEO in charge of Administration and Human Resource, Mrs Yaa Pokuaa Baiden; the Deputy CEO in charge of Finance, Mr Francis Owusu; the Director of Membership and Regional Operations, Mr Ben Kusi; the Deputy Director of Marketing, Mr Oswald Esuah-Mensah; the Deputy Director at the CEO’s Secretariat, Mr Davis Opoku Ansah, and the Communications Manager, Richard Barima Sarpong.

Service code

Explaining further, Dr Dsane-Selby said the NHIS Mobile Membership Renewal — a service code — *842*10# (from MTN & Vodafone numbers for now), could be used to check the status of NHIS membership eligibility, benefit package and medicines list.

WHO guidelines

For his part, Dr Annor said: “When you want to go to the market to buy a commodity, you have to take the right price in your pocket. The right price, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, is that to purchase primary health care, you need about $86 for each person for the whole year.

“At the moment, with GH¢110, it only translates to about $25 for each person for a whole year and so obviously you cannot purchase health care with that low amount of money. Our membership has grown, the demand has risen, the cost of health care has risen and that is why we are in this state.

“So we are saying that the government should come to our aid by increasing the percentage of the National Health Insurance Levy from 2.5 to 3.5 per cent to allow for civil servants and people who are employed to be able to contribute to their own health care.

“They will not contribute to the government’s budget funding but their own health care into the health fund at the Bank of Ghana."

He explained that there was the need for Ghana to take a serious look at the financing module of the NHIS to prevent it from collapse.

“We have been broke for many years now because of the financing module,” he declared.

The NHIA had submitted a proposal to levy tobacco and alcohol to fund the NHIS as one of its bold steps, he said.

Dr Annor said the reason for the suggestion to tax alcohol and tobacco was born out of the fact that the nation was likely to spend more in treating people with alcohol and tobacco-related illnesses which could affect the scheme.

Benefit package

According to NHIA documents, the NHIS benefit package is considered very generous and comprehensive, as it covers over 90 per cent of disease conditions in Ghana.

It also covers outpatient services (general and specialist consultations, diagnostics, medicines, HIV and AIDS symptomatic treatment for opportunistic infections, etc.)

The scheme also covers in-patient services (general and specialist in-patient care, diagnostics, medicines,) oral health and eye care, maternity care (including caesarean session), emergencies (crisis situations such as medical and surgical emergencies, as well as road accidents).