High running costs challenge to NHIS
The mounting deficit being incurred by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) threatens its survival.
Actuarial balances available to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on the NHIS indicate that for the year 2012, the scheme incurred a deficit of GH¢114.42 million, while in 2013, the deficit is expected to go up to GH¢306.91 million.
Similarly, the deficit is expected to reach GH¢417.08 million and sour up to GH¢515.71 million in 2015.
However, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Mr Sylvester Mensah, who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament with other high-ranking officials of the authority on Thursday, to answer audit queries, allayed the fears of Ghanaians about the sustainability of the scheme.
He explained that management had adopted a number of cost containment measures to curtail the rising cost of claims.
Such measures, he said, included plans to undertake staff rationalisation exercise and the introduction of standard prescription forms.
Mr Mensah said measures adopted by the authority was yielding results and mentioned one of the measures as the establishment of a clinical audit regime to reconcile diagnosis to ensure that they were consistent with that of the Ministry of Health.
He stated that the clinical audit in 2010 uncovered an overpayment GH¢22 million as claims out of which GH¢9 million had been reclaimed.
Mr Mensah also said it was projected that such measures would enable the scheme to reduce claims service providers by about nine per cent.
He told the committee that the actuarial balance for 2016, in compliance with its agreement with the World Bank was ready and pleaded to be given more time to submit it after a request by the Chairman of the PAC and MP for Dormaa Central, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu.
Other issues that came up for questioning were the late payment of withholding tax, statutory deduction of $26,661.68 and the no physical verification of cash at year end, contrary to best management practices.
The Auditor-General recommended that in future, cash count exercises should be done periodically and that reconciliation should be done to sort out any differences in the accounting records.
Ghana Aids Commission
The Director of Policy and Planning of the Ghana Aids Commission, Dr Joseph Amuzu, led other officials of the commission to answer questions during the sitting of the PAC.
He revealed that the commission, chaired by President John Dramani Mahama, with the Vice-President as the Vice-Chairman, was gradually becoming cash strapped.
Dr Amuzu attributed the situation to the withdrawal of support by traditional donors such as the Department for International Development (DFID) since 2010.
He said even though no explanation had been given, it could be assumed that it was as a result of the country’s attainment of lower middle-income status and the financial crisis being experienced by Ghana’s traditional donor countries.
It also came out during the sitting that the commission paid GH¢59,000 into an account of the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council which later on turned out to be a false account.
But Dr Amuzu explained that even though the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council gave the account details to the commission, when enquiries were made after the amount had been paid for the use of the district assemblies, it was realised that a different account number was given to the commission.
He said the commission would adopt measures to obtain funds and support from non-traditional sources such as Brazil, Russia, China and local and international philanthropic organisations and appealed to the government to redeem the GH¢150 million pledge it made towards the operations of the commission.
Other institutions under MoH
Other institutions under the Ministry of Health (MoH) which appeared before the committee at thursday’s sitting were the Nurses and Midwives Council, the Medical and Dental Council, the Ghana Red Cross Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Food and Drugs Authority.
Common issues that cut across the operational irregularities of these institutions were failure to log fuel purchases, purchase made from non- VAT entities, withholding of tax deductions, unaccounted for revenues, expenditure without supporting documents, and the non-payment of internally generated funds into the Consolidated Fund, among others.
By Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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