Minister of Health warns health service providers against charging patients for NHIS-covered services

Health Minister Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu
Health Minister Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu

The Ministry of Health has recently cautioned health service providers against charging patients for services already covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The move is aimed at restoring public confidence in the scheme, which has been facing a major challenge in the form of co-payments. Co-payment is a separate charge imposed by service providers for conditions already covered by the scheme.

Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the sector minister, has urged service providers, particularly the Ghana Health Service (GHS), to help address the situation. He stated that the act of co-payment had been banned and that the President of Ghana did not want to see poor patients being charged out of pocket for healthcare services. Maternal services such as deliveries are supposed to be free, but some facilities are charging patients as high as GH¢1,000 for the service, which is unacceptable.

The minister emphasized that co-payments created a barrier to access, and the ministry was working to end the illegality through meaningful engagements. The government has been doing well with timely payments, and the arrears gap has been bridged over time. Service providers are now owed about four or five months compared to the situation that persisted some years back when they were owed 12 months and beyond.

Agyeman-Manu called on the managers of the GHS, who constitute about 70% of healthcare provider agencies under the ministry, to combat the canker that could make the NHIS unattractive. He said that the NHIS was still effective and continued to provide unfettered access to healthcare delivery. The government would continue to invest in the scheme, and the scheme had not shown any signs of crumbling.

In January this year, the CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Bernard Okoe-Boye, cautioned facilities against co-payment arrangement or risk losing their accreditation.

He announced confidently that very soon the accreditation of health facilities which additionally charge active NHIS patients with impunity would be revoked. The NHIA annually injects GH¢120 million into the health sector, and an average of GH¢1.5 million is paid to each health facility every month across the nation.

In February this year, the MoH and the NHIA reviewed upward the prices of medicines and services paid to the service providers and suppliers on the health insurance scheme to prevent them from making losses or refusing to offer services.

The reviews were in accordance with the National Health Insurance Act, 2012 (Act 852), explaining that they were necessary to enhance service delivery for subscribers and give providers value for money to avoid certain gaps in accessing medications and services under the scheme.


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