The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is launching a new technology that would enable National Health Insurance card holders to easily renew their cards, and also register new members under the scheme, on December 19, 2018 in Accra.
According to the management of the NHIA, the situation where card holders and people willing to be registered under the scheme or renew their cards travel long distances to the various districts or municipal offices of the scheme to do so, creates inconveniences that most of the time resulted in long queues at the district offices, to the disadvantage of both the personnel and subscribers.
Addressing the media at the Volta Regional capital, Ho, as part of a national education programme, the Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs Directorate of the NHIA, Mr. Oswald Essuah-Mensah, said the Mobile Membership Renewal and Authentication Project was carefully designed after 15 years of implementation.
Mr. Essuah-Mensah continued that the Mobile Membership Renewal and Authentication projection was anticipated to help bring to an end the hours card holders spent in long queues at the district offices, and also traveling time spent in addition to expenses.
He said the Code 929 with star and hash tag would be activated after the launch to enable card holders and prospective members to renew their cards and register new members at their own convenience at home without travelling long distances.
He further added that 16 districts had tried the SMS mobile technology, which had proved very effective on a pilot basis.
The Deputy Corporate Affairs Director disclosed that as at 2017, the scheme had recorded 10.58 million active members, representing 37 percent of the Ghanaian population, and 60,000 renewals, saying, initially, 18 million Ghanaians registered under the scheme, but the number had reduced to the current figure of 10.58 million active members, and hoped that with the new mobile technology, the number would increase appreciably.
Mr. Essuah-Mensah pointed out that due to the challenges card holders face, particularly in renewals, they most of the times failed to do so, and only get to healthcare providers to be told that their cards had expired, but such would be a thing of the past, because, under the new Mobile technology, SMS messages would be sent to card holders two weeks to the expiry date of their cards on their phones, as a reminder.
He said the new technology would also go a long way to prevent fraud, in relation to claims, as card holders, who health providers state as having attended a particular health facility, would be sent SMS messages to enable them confirm that he or she had really attended that health facility.
According Mr. Essuah-Mensah, a Claims Check Code would be provided to check as to whether the claims presented by the healthcare providers were right, which would go a long way to reduce fraud associated with claims.
He said the mobile technology would be strictly restricted to the electronic payment system, adding that management of the NHIS wanted card holders to be active citizens, rather than becoming spectators, in efforts being made for it to become more attractive.
Mr. Essuah-Mensah was hopeful that with the new technology, the country would achieve access to universal health coverage of 100 percent by the end of 2030.
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Letsa, lauded the efforts of the management of the scheme, saying such innovations would go a long way to address challenges such as fraud, which affects the financial base, as individual providers enrich themselves to the detriment of the scheme.
Dr. Letsa also urged the management of the scheme to intensify education on the new mobile phone technology to help create the needed awareness.