A 16-member Liberian delegation, which was in the country to understudy the operations and structure of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), has ended its study tour with a call on Ghanaians to be proud of the health insurance scheme the country has collectively built.
Leader of the delegation, the Liberian Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Human Development, Hon. Yah Zolia at the concluding part of their four-day study visit said Liberia was in the process of setting up a health financing system and they chose to learn from Ghana’s example because it is one of the best on the continent they could understudy.
Hon. Zoli was grateful for the reception the NHIA offered and the willingness administrators of the Authority demonstrated in taking them through some thematic areas of effective health insurance management and the Ghanaian experience.
Chief Executive of the NHIA, Sylvester A. Mensah assured the Liberian team of NHIA’s preparedness to assist them technically to get their program started so they do not experience some of the early challenges the Ghana Scheme encountered. According to him, “health insurance generally appears to be a virgin area. There is no best global model. Nonetheless Ghana’s is one of the most innovative and globally accepted models.”
Mr Mensah remarked that the Ghana’s NHIS has an “innovative and interesting financing mechanism” that includes a 2.5% tax on goods and services (NHIL as a component of VAT) and asked the delegation to ensure that they put together an innovative and sustainable financing regime that would support their scheme.
He added that typical of social intervention policies everywhere in the world, when the scheme expands, the issue of sustainability would become topical and they should have strategies to keep the scheme buoyant.
The Chief Executive advised that a robust ICT system must be developed to support the management of the scheme. He observed that it would be useful to use capitation as one of their provider payment methods right from the onset to enable them run an efficient system. According to him, it is always better to start with a modest benefit package and gradually scale-up as the scheme grows.
Present at the closing session was President of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei who highlighted the need for stakeholders in the health service delivery chain to engage frequently to help address the challenges that may arise before they grow out of proportion. He said if challenges are not resolved early, the health seeker and the country’s health sector generally suffer.
Officials of the NHIA took the Liberian delegation through some major themes including structure of the NHIS, NHIS scheme operations and clinical audit.
Claims processing, provider payment mechanisms and provider relations were also covered during the tour. The team also visited a number of NHIA accredited facilities and installations.
The team was in Ghana between February 18 and 22, 2014.
This visit follows study tours from many other countries including Nigeria, Bangladesh, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Benin, and Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali and underscores Ghana’s growing international recognition as a model of health insurance implementation in the developing world and beyond.