Dr Justice Yankson

Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Justice Yankson, has called on government to address delays in reimbursement for services rendered by health facilities under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Dr Yankson was one of the discussants on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Thursday, to analyse details of a documentary produced by Corruption Watch in partnership with The Multimedia Group, titled, “Pay or Die!: The agony of pregnant women in hospitals”.

The 30-minute documentary reveals that pregnant women are made to pay for services that are supposed to be free under the Free Maternal Healthcare Policy’

Dr Justice Yankson, who is a practicing medical officer, said shortages of medical supplies at health facilities occur due to poor funding of the policy and delays in reimbursement for services rendered.

“And there has to be a choice between leaving the patient to die to increase the mortality rate or asking the patient to go and pay for something that ordinarily may be, should have been covered.”

Per the provisions of the National Health Insurance Act, 2012 (Act 852), expectant mothers in Ghana are not supposed to pay for prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) care.

However, the “Pay or Die” documentary shows that the situation on the ground is contrary to what the law says.

Dr Yankson therefore urged the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure that reimbursements are done promptly.

“NHIA has to make sure the payments are done and done promptly. If the facility has not been reimbursed, let’s say a year, or some months now, and they have run short of drugs, and suppliers are owed. They are also not ready to supply.”

He said that due to these shortfalls, health professionals and facility managers should not be blamed. The GMA’s General Secretary further noted that patients are also not spared the inconvenience.

“Once you move out of the health facility, you’re now at the mercy of market dynamics. Because when you go out of the facility, there’s no guarantee that the pharmacy that you may end up at, actually even accepts the NHIS card Sometimes you’d be forced to pay for them.”