NHIA considers tax on sugar, cigarette to fund collapsing health insurance scheme

NHIA considers tax on sugar, cigarette to fund collapsing health insurance scheme
Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Jerry Tsatro Mordy | Email: jerry.mordy@myjoyonline.com, Twitter: @jerrymordy
Date: 05-01-2018 Time: 02:01:49:am

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) may impose taxes on sugar in order to deter people from taking the product and raise funds to support the ailing health insurance scheme.

NHIA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Samuel Annor said the decision has been informed by the increasing number of reported cases of sugar-related ailments reported at health facilities.

It is the Authority that usually bears the brunt by paying the bills of patients who are beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Scheme, he told Myjoyonline.com in an interview.

About four million Ghanaians are reported to be living with diabetes, the Ghana Diabetes Association has said.

Diabetes is a medical condition that indicates the patient has high blood glucose (or blood sugar) either because of insufficient insulin production or because the body cells do not respond properly to insulin or both.

Joy FM through its Sugar Project led by Super Morning Show Host, Kojo Yankson, has been creating awareness on the disease.

The project is also used to raise funds annually with the Pop Chain Concert held in collaboration with the Rotary Club to support the diabetic patients.

The Sugar Tax, Dr. Annor explained to Myjoyonline.com, will help raise funds to support the Authority as well as used to reduce the desire for high sugar consumption.

“You want to eat 10 cubes of sugar in a cup of tea; go ahead but let’s tax the sugar…so that we can keep the money in the fund so that when you develop your diabetes, there will be money to take care of you,” he said.

The NHIA has so far paid the sum of GHȻ1.2b to settle monies owed service providers since the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) took over. The amount represents almost 90% of the money available in the Authority’s coffers.

Aside from the ‘Sugar Tax’, Dr. Annor disclosed the Authority has also proposed a Health Tax on cigarettes and alcohol as it continues to look at other sources of raising funds to support the Health Insurance.

Other sources being considered include increasing the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) component on Value Added Tax (VAT) from 2.5% to 3.5%.

Employers will also be required to contribute 2% of their monthly earnings, while workers will be made to contribute 1% of their monthly earnings towards the fund, he told Myjoyonline.com.

“If we are able to get government to agree on that then it becomes incumbent on other employers to do same.”

The NHIA is also lobbying government for a percentage of the oil revenue, he said, adding: “at the end of the day everybody in Ghana will benefit from the oil fund.”

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