The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has sounded the alarm on the imminent collapse of health institutions in the country if national health insurance claims are not paid promptly.
According to the GMA, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) owed major public health facilities in the Greater Accra Region and four health facilities in the Ashanti Region a total of GHc22,701,517.
A letter signed by the General Secretary of the GMA, Dr Frank Serebour to the Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, said the situation was nationwide and had led to most hospitals resorting to co-payment and in some cases outright cash and carry.
The last payment made by the NHIA to health facilities was June 2014.
In the Greater Accra Region, the NHIA is reported to owe major public hospitals various sums amounting to GHC18,342,842.76, it said.
In the Ashanti Region, it owes the Kumasi South Regional Hospital, the Manhyia District Hospital, the Suntreso Government Hospital and the Maternal and Child Health Hospital a total of GHc4,358,675.
The GMA, therefore, urged the Ministry of Health (MoH) to actively engage the Ministry of Finance to, as a matter of urgency, get the NHIA to pay all amounts owed to health facilities across the country in order to save them from total collapse.
To ensure that the health of the population was not compromised, the association said, it was the duty of the MoH to ensure that health facilities were paid promptly subsequently.
According to the GMA, many hospitals were run basically on money that was returned from services provided for NHIS card-bearing clients.
To that end, it said, any prolonged delay in payments, “as is happening now, impacts hugely on the effective running of the hospitals”.
Last January, the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Victor Asare Bampoe, assured National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) providers that they would receive part of their arrears within the end of last February.
Before the deputy minister gave that assurance, the NHIA had not been able to pay scheme providers for 11 months. As of May 2014, the government owed health service providers GHC213.2 million.
According to Dr Bampoe, there was a fiscal squeeze in funds, a situation which affected claims payment of NHIS providers.
However, he said the government had prioritised payments and would soon make money available to providers.
He said although the money that would be released would not cover all the arrears owed providers, it would serve as a relief to them.
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