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Nine million Ghanaians use health insurance

Nine million active subscribers have so far signed on to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Cumulatively, the NHIS has had in its books 22 million subscribers since its inception in 2003. These are people who register but fail to renew their registration. The active subscribers are those who have renewed the membership till date.

Mr Ametor Quarmine, a communications consultant at the NHIS, who was speaking to the Daily Graphic, stated that the scheme had started the implementation of biometric registration, by which subscribers’ biometric details, including fingerprints, pictures and other details, would be provided on cards instantaneously.

He said the scheme had started registering those in the military and the Ghana Police Service and would soon cover the entire country.

Asked why the biometric card did not become operational instantly, Mr Quarmine said the law governing the scheme stated that it took three months after registration before the card became operational.

Earlier, a statement was issued by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the NHIS.

It said since its introduction, the NHIS has grown to become a major instrument for financing healthcare delivery in Ghana and provides 85 per cent of all internally generated funds (IGF) of all government and missionary health institutions.

The statement said the scheme was engaged with more than 3,200 healthcare service providers and offered a generous benefit package that covered about 95 per cent of disease conditions in Ghana.

It said the scheme at present provided premium-free health care for nearly 70 per cent of its total registered membership, underscoring its social protection credentials.

About international recognition, it said in the relatively short period of its implementation, the NHIS had gained international recognition and acclamation, culminating in the UN Award for Excellence and Leadership in November 2010.

“Though the scheme has encountered a number of challenges in the last decade, as the case is with every institution, it may be said that the past has been ground-breaking, the present engaging but the future is bright and promising, as the scheme gears towards universal coverage and further improvement,” the statement conceded.

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary, the NHIA has put together a series of activities over a two-month period to reflect the past and chart a new way forward for the future.

Among others are anniversary lectures, an international conference and an inter-school quiz to deepen awareness of the NHIS.

The 10th anniversary, which is on the theme, “Towards Universal Health Coverage: Increasing Enrolment while Ensuring Sustainability”, coincides with the implementation of the new law, The National Health Insurance Act, 2012 (Act 852), which enjoyed bi-partisan support in its passage.

The new law, among others, creates a unitary scheme and ensures greater efficiency in the operations of the NHIS.

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