The Health Insurance Service Providers Association (HISPAG), an association of health institutions providing health insurance services for the public nationwide, has served notice that it will henceforth use legal means to demand interest on delayed claims paid by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
It said that was because whenever providers delayed payment to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the Ghana Revenue Authority, the providers were taken to court to compel them to pay the principal amount with penalty calculated for the period delayed.
The Director of Operations and Communications of the HISPAG, Mr Anthony Ameka, served the notice on behalf of members of the association at the inauguration of the Northern Regional branch of the HISPAG in Tamale.
Mr Ameka also issued a threat that if by the end of this month the NHIA had not paid the 10-month arrears it owed service providers, they would have no option but ask subscribers to pay cash for services.
He expressed concern over the persistent delay in the payment of claims to service providers under the NHIS.
That, he said, had serious adverse effects on the finances of service providers and their capacity to procure essential drugs, non-drug consumables, among other things needed to provide quality health care.
Mr Ameka noted that the NHIA had a pivotal role to play if Ghana was to achieve the Millennium Development Goals four and five (MDG 4&5) and cautioned that the prevailing situation with respect to the payment of NHIA claims could be a setback for the attainment of those goals.
He said currently, the NHIA was indebted to service providers for 10 months, adding that the situation was worse for private facilities that had to bear all costs, ranging from salaries to medical consumables.
He said even though the NHIA had promised NHIS service providers that by mid-February arrears up to November 31, 2013 would be paid, that had not been done.
He called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, set up an independent body similar to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to be responsible for the review of tariffs and prices.
Objectives of HISPAG
Among other things, the HISPAG offers support, provides advisory services for members and protects them against unfair treatment by health insurance companies.
It is also poised to ensure that providers are paid realistic tariffs for medical services and medicines and that claims are paid in accordance with the legal provisions that established health insurance schemes.
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