Ten million, one hundred and forty-five thousand, one hundred and ninety-six (10,145,196) Ghanaians, representing thirty-eight per cent of the population, were active members of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2013.
The figure represents a growth rate of 14.2 per cent over that of 2012, as all four targeted regions— Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions— increased membership of between 13 per cent and 32 per cent between 2012 and 2013, with the majority (57.8 per cent) of the membership of the NHIS in 2013 being females.
These were contained in a report launched by SEND-GHANA in Accra on Friday.
The theme for the launch was “Is the National Health Insurance Scheme Pro-poor? The need to make inclusive progress on health outcomes.”
In an address, the Programs Officer of SEND-GHANA, Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, disclosed that data was collected from 20 poor districts and 120 communities selected from the four targeted regions.
Ms Agyemang said the Adentan Municipal Assembly in the Greater Accra region recorded the highest coverage of 15 per cent of its population while the Wa Municipal Assembly in the Upper West region recorded the highest coverage of 90 per cent of its population.
The study, she said, showed that the increase in subscriptions to the scheme was largely attributed to increase in public education and sensitization of communities through radio and community durbars by NHIS in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
According to the report, free registration for vulnerable groups such as children in deprived schools under the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) and People with Disabilities (PWDs) also boosted membership.
Touching on partnerships, the study, she said, indicated that there was a strong collaboration between NHIS and the Department of Social Welfare in some districts which had resulted in the enrolment of LEAP beneficiaries onto the NHIS.
Ms Agyemang mentioned the districts as Nanumba South in the Upper West region and West Mamprusi in the Northern region.
She said the report identified a number of unapproved charges being collected by some facilities which prevented poor pregnant women from enjoying the full benefits of the scheme as prescribed by the policy.
The report, therefore, recommended that to successfully enroll the majority of core poor and vulnerable groups on the NHIS, there was the need to strengthen institutional collaboration between NHIS and Department of Social Welfare.
The report also urged NHIS, Department of Social Welfare and the Ghana Statistical Services to work together to identify the 2.2 million Ghanaians who cannot afford to feed themselves.
Furthermore, the report stressed the need for NHIS to increase effective monitoring mechanisms that will ensure strict compliance to policy implementation guidelines and that NHIS and CSOs should educate the public on services that they are supposed to pay for at the health facilities.
The report also urged Parliament to review the definition of indigents as provided for in Act 650 and ensure it is consistent with national extreme poverty indicators.
Source: ISD (Aliyah Bayali)