The National Health Insurance Scheme is facing a ₵337million funding gap, which could hamper the Scheme's operations and leave close to 700,000 people without medicare.

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), which administers the scheme, has perennially had a gaping hole in its books; but managers say the current threat from the funding gap means the biggest health insurance scheme in the country is now facing a crisis.

Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel Otoo and the Health Minister, Alex Segbefia, have both conceded that the Scheme's operations will be significantly constrained if government fails to bridge the gap amid the Authority's objectives this year to increase the scheme's active membership from the current 11.2 million to 11.9 million by the end of the year.

“For the Scheme to operate optimally, an amount of ₵2 billion was required. Expected total receipts made up of government of Ghana receipts and Internally Generated Funds for 2016 amounted to ₵1,669 billion, leaving a funding gap ₵337 million,” Mr. Otoo said.

Health Minister Alex Segbefia further added: “However, the august House is reminded to take note of constraints that the Authority is likely to face if the gap of ₵337million is not financed”.

The topmost policymakers in the health sector made their concerns known to Parliament, with the entirety of legislators urging Finance Minister Seth Terkper to “take all the necessary steps to ensure that the funding gap is closed in order to keep the NHlA solvent”.

Parliament, before it went on recess, approved ₵1,497 million captured in the Appropriations Act, 2016 as budgeted receipts for the NHIA, as well as the National Health Insurance Fund Allocation

Formula 2016 to implement its programme of activities for the 2016 financial year while additional funding is being sought.

Mr. Otoo explained to Parliament that the budgeted amount represented receipts from VAT and SSNIT, which are part of the Fund's revenue sources.

The NHIA intends to intensify efforts through membership drive and policy reforms to encourage enrolment and renewal of membership by the end of the year.

According to a report of the National Health Insurance Fund Allocation Formula, officials of the Authority have projected that 43 percent of the population, or 11.9 million will constitute active membership of the NHIS in 2016 – representing an about 6.25 percent increase over the active membership of 2015.

The report further indicated that the Authority will not go beyond the ceiling provided for in the Appropriations Act, 2016, and said that the ministry will expecting additional allocation from the supplementary budget the course of the year.

It also indicates t registration coverage distribution by category includes the info sector, SSNIT contributors, S£ pensioners, indigents, children under 18, the aged above 70 years and pregnant women.

The Average premium rates per member (informal sector) 2015, the report states, was ₵12.

Mr. Segbefia ass Parliament that when the Teel Review Committee set up to i the Scheme completes its work the operations of NHIA will be as the cost of operations v down and revenue so improved.

“In 2016, we plan to strengthen controls over the Consolidated Premium Account (CPA) system to improve premium collections and reduce leakages. We intend to introduce the e-payment and on-site banking system for premium collection,” the report stated.

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