Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby, says merging the Ghana Card and the National Health Insurance Card is to ensure that people receive comprehensive healthcare ranging from promotion and prevention to treatment in line with the Primary Health Care (PHC) values.
Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby was speaking at the official inaugural ceremony of the NHIS Week under the theme, ‘NHIS-Leaving no one behind,’ held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC).
“Ghana has identified Primary Health Care (PHC) as a key strategy for implementation of the country’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) roadmap. Ghana’s resolve to attain UHC, however, has a much more profound history, which begun with the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2005. In this regard, we will proudly hitch a ride on the back of the success of the NIA’s Ghana card to ensure that every captured citizen also has an NHIS membership.”
“Primary Health Care functions must hone in on the three dimensions of UHC; population coverage, health services and financial protection, as a strategic move towards achieving UHC. The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), therefore, forms an integral part of UHC attainment in its established objectives.”
She said the Authority would use the Week celebration to embark on a mass membership mobilization to increase the Scheme’s active membership as the theme implies leaving no one behind.
“Currently, the NHIS has 23.1 million registered members in its database which equates to 77% of the estimated population and it is our move to ensure that everyone becomes active on the scheme. The Authority is therefore embarking on mass membership mobilization across the country to capture every citizen in our campaign of leaving no one behind. To leave no one behind, the Authority is poised to provide access to comprehensive primary health care across the country while ensuring optimal healthcare standards are maintained.”
“Prior to our drive to increase membership, the Authority has expedited the credentialing process for CHPS Compounds under the Ghana Health Service, ensuring that geographic access to healthcare is feasible. The Authority has also embarked on an extensive facility mapping exercise across the country, in a bid to increase access to healthcare for all our members.”
The NHIA Boss commended former President for his far-sightedness saying, “The NHIS was initiated by His Excellency the former President J.A. Kufuor under the policy objective of guaranteeing financial risk protection for all residents in Ghana, while providing a comprehensive and well-defined benefits package of quality healthcare services.”
“With the amalgamation of a number of community-based health insurance schemes across the country, the mandate for the NHIS commenced. It has remained an exemplary health financing mechanism in Africa, thriving through evolving policy directives and implementation strategies both nationally and globally,” she posited.
She explained what necessitated the introduction of the NHIS Biometric Registration system. “Soon after the establishment of the NHIS, the national database of registered health insurance members indicated the occurrence of multiple entries. This called for a more representative mode of registering members, resulting in the introduction of the NHIS Biometric Registration system in 2013. This system largely helped clean the database, but did not effectually address the issue of inactive membership.”
She called for a paradigm shift in ensuring that citizens are provided with appropriate interventions for maintaining healthy lifestyles.
“Equally imperative to the attainment of the UHC goal is a focus on health prevention and promotion. We need a paradigm shift from curative to preventive healthcare, while ensuring that citizens are provided with appropriate interventions for maintaining healthy lifestyles. The focus on curative care in our benefits package has resulted in adverse selection, with only the sick accessing the NHIS. When we strengthen our efforts on staying healthy as a nation, there will be, of necessity, a simultaneous re-engineering of the NHIS benefits package towards comprehensive primary health care services, which addresses disease prevention and health promotion.”
“It is harmful to think that provision of free primary health care alone can result in attainment of UHC. Free primary healthcare which is accessible only when sick cannot lead to UHC, and does not improve the health outcomes of a population holistically. Evidence-based opinions concur that it is an emphasis on health prevention and promotion that keeps the population healthy. The measures to reform and restructure the NHIA, as the chosen direction of the Board and Management, will get us there,” she stressed.
She maintained that the NHIA’s major priority is to expedite Ghana’s attainment of Universal Coverage. “For a country to achieve UHC, it is crucial to know the demographic characteristics of its people; who they are, where they reside, and what their major health problems include. This data informs national policies and interventions in the provision of the most aptly suited strategies for positive health outcomes. The NHIA is rich with such a dataset, and requires each registered member to be active for this data to be representative of the current demographic profile of Ghanaian residents.”
She described the Scheme’s Mobile Renewal platform as a game-changer and urged people to use it for membership renewals at their own convenience.
“The Authority’s consistent responsiveness to its members saw a context-appropriate solution to the challenge of lengthy waiting times at NHIS district offices during membership registration. The NHIS Mobile Renewal system was introduced in December 2018 to favourable reception, improving member experience and staff efficiency. Since its inception, average renewals per month have increased and the system accounts for 75-80% of all NHIS membership renewals.”
In line with government’s digitization policy, she said the Authority implemented some novelties to removing redundancies and shortening the communications chain.
“Coupled with the above, the NHIA is increasingly following the government’s policy of digitization and has employed same in its operations. Apart from mobile renewal, digitization of the provider credentialing process has been instituted for effective provider engagement unto the NHIS. Additionally, over 30% of claims are submitted via the electronic claims systems. The benefits of such initiatives were seen as most beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic when their operationalization provided a semblance of normalcy for the Authority, its members and providers.”