The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is collapsing. It indicated that contrary to the rosy picture of the NHIS being painted by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the scheme was rather fast collapsing under the government.
Addressing the third in its Moment of Truth series by the Communications Officer of the party, Mr Sammy Gyamfi, the NDC said recently in his State of the Nation Address and while on a tour of the United States, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo claimed that the NHIS is “buoyant and has come back to life.”
The truth of the matter, the NDC said, is that the NHIS is in a deplorable state and gasping for liquidity breath and that currently, it owed service providers in all the 16 regions of Ghana claims covering a period of almost 12 months and that had landed most healthcare facilities in distress.
“Contrary to the flowery and rosy picture that the President continues to paint at every given opportunity about the health of the NHIS, the fact is that, the NHIS is on the verge of collapse,” the NDC stated.
The NDC also said it had taken note of persistent claims by the President that the government had cleared a total of GH¢1.2 billion in arrears it inherited from the erstwhile Mahama government.
“We wish to state without any equivocation that this claim is not born out by the facts. After the Association of Private Clinics and the leadership of Government Hospitals disputed this claim, one would have thought that the President will desist from peddling this obvious deception,” the NDC claimed.
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The NDC maintained that indisputable evidence contained in the 2017 NHIS Fund Allocation Formula presented to Parliament by the Minister of Health showed that the total arrears stood at GH¢425.79 as of December 2016 and that completely belied the claims of the President.
The NDC said the nosediving fortunes of the NHIS manifested itself in the continuous decline in the active membership of the scheme in the last two years, explaining that with a national coverage of 39 per cent in 2016, the coverage had reduced to 37 per cent in 2017 and 35 in 2018.
“The statistics depict the declining confidence of Ghanaians in the NHIS and expose the dire straits that the scheme has been plunged into by the government,” the NDC stated.
Irony of expenditures
Ironically, the NDC pointed out that while there was a clear decreasing trend in the active membership of the scheme, compensation to staff of the scheme was increasing.
According to the party, from a compensation payment of GH¢115 million in 2016, the amount had gone up to GH¢132 million, GH¢168 million and GH¢211.28 million in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The party also observed what it described as the worrying trend in relation to government releases to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) which it said had declined considerably while at the same time, the government continued to collect more in revenue from the NHIS.
The NDC said even though the best practice dictated the use of 75 per cent to 80 per cent of accrued funds to finance the scheme, the government was currently using only 60.64 per cent of NHIF accrued funds for their intended purpose.
“This points to the misapplication of NHIF funds by the government and we can speak of several such instances. While the scheme continues to struggle, more than GH¢300 million has been projected to be spent on ICT and another GH¢5million is being devoted to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in 2019. This is a complete aberration from the core objective of the fund.