From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani
The Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Office of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has registered 91,538 indigents free of charge as at June, 2019.
The figure exceeded the second quarter target of 85,518 out of the 2019 registration target of 171,036.
Mr. George Oppong Danquah, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Operations Manager of the NHIA, who said this during a media encounter in Sunyani, added that the scheme also registered 1,407,710 members in the three regions within the same period.
According to Mr. Oppong Danquah, the Mobile-based Renewal Application System introduced by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is impacting significantly on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the three regions.
He explained that the system allows NHIS members to renew their membership from their homes with the aid of a mobile wallet-enabled phone, without travelling or walking distances to the district offices of the NHIA.
He said the NHIS had gone through a number of reforms, including members being authenticated biometrically at healthcare facilities, after which an SMS interactive prompt feature confirms attendance. “This feature seeks to minimise incidences of forged claims and ultimately reduce NHIA expenditure,” Mr. Danquah said.
Mr. Oppong Danquah said that the Attorney General’s (AG) Department had granted the NHIA the fiat, allowing the Authority to prosecute its cases, adding that criminal offences against the NHIA are being reviewed by the in-house legal team trained by the AG’s Department for speedy prosecution.
“The NHIS is also instituting the right reforms to enable it to achieve Universal Health Coverage and to ensure financial risk protection against the cost of healthcare for all Ghanaians”, he added.
The HNIA Operations Manager said the new reforms had already increased confidence in the Scheme, with close to 4,500 credentialed facilities signed up to offer services to the NHIS members. “Overall, this will increase the health-seeking behaviour of Ghanaians and improve mortality rates in Ghana,” he said.
Mr. Oppong Danquah said the management of the scheme had put in place an electronic processing system (e-claims), along with in-house software for claims submission by providers, with the aim to make all processes swifter, including payments to providers.
According to him, the management of the scheme anticipates that by 2020, claims management will be completely electronic.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, launched two technical innovations designed to make the National Health Insurance Scheme more accessible to its members, and also improve upon its financial management.
The two, the Mobile Membership Renewal Service and the generation of E-Receipts to track payments, are designed to streamline the operations of the NHIS and make it more efficient.
The NHIS Mobile Membership Renewal Service allows NHIS members to check policy validity, NHIS medicines list and benefit package, and, most importantly, renew membership with the use of a mobile money wallet on any simple mobile phone, including feature phones, better known as ‘yam phones’ in a matter of minutes via a dedicated USSD code *929#.
The SMS feature system has been embedded in this NHIS Mobile Membership Renewal Service, which will allow the participation of NHIS members in confirming their attendance at facilities, hence, reducing the submission of duplicate or unearned claims submitted by healthcare providers for payment. This feature does not only reduce financial leakages, but also makes the scheme more financially sustainable.
The NHIS has also innovated by using technology to enhance its financial system in providing access to health care, by its collaboration with the National Investment Bank to provide E-Receipting technology with on-site banking at all its district offices. This reduces manual interventions in cash management, and makes the scheme more efficient.