An Advocacy Group, the Essential Services Platform, is advocating free healthcare for all Ghanaians. The proposal comes at a time when Government is contemplating the payment of a onetime premium for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
According to the group, the system whereby people contribute to healthcare by paying VAT and NHIL is unfair and wasteful since not all such persons benefit from it.
The Chairman for the Groupâ€™s Free Healthcare Campaign Committee, Jeffery Ocansey, told Citi News Government must consider scrapping off the payment of NHIS premium since that contributes only 5% to the scheme.
â€œEveryone contributes through taxes and then we have the NHIL levy. But when it goes into that basket that we all have to benefit, then we say everybody should register with the NHIS to access. This is supposed to be a pro-poor policy but only a few poor people have been able to register. It still benefits the rich people and the poor are again relegated to the backgroundâ€.
â€œAn insurance scheme is run on premium, but unfortunately we have a case where the premium only contributes 5% to the scheme. So if 95% of the total money needed to run the scheme will come from the tax system, then why donâ€™t we scrap it off and find a way of making it a reality by contributing through taxes to make healthcare at the basic level free. We are not saying people wonâ€™t pay for it. You pay for few taxes and then at the point of need you can access free healthcareâ€ he noted.
Mr. Jeffery Ocansey urged Government to focus on using taxes to provide free healthcare for all rather than implementing a onetime premium payment for the NHIS.
He said a full cost recovery approach through a widened tax system will sustain the scheme and reduce the excessive corruption that threatens it.
Speaking to Citi News, a Deputy Director of Corporate Affairs at the NHIA, Mr. Eric Ametor Quarmyn confirmed that the premium contributes just about 5% to the total income of the NHIS annually.
He however noted that the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) alone does not contribute the rest of 95%. He said a large chunk of the funds is gotten from the two and half percent which Government borrows from the SNNIT Fund on monthly basis, as well as Governmentâ€™s budgetary support.
Mr. Ametor Quarmyn said although a free Universal healthcare programme was laudable; it has dire consequences as was evident in the first regime of Ghanaâ€™s First President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, which eventually brought about the â€œcash and carry systemâ€.
He said there was the need to make the citizenry part of the system hence the decision to accept their minute contributions.
According to him, Ghana can only opt for free Universal healthcare when the necessary infrastructure is put in place in a congenial environment.