Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has challenged health experts to come out with innovative ways for financing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

He explained that currently the government budget is seriously constrained and therefore the easy option of allocating more money to the scheme is not available.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur was speaking at the National Health Insurance Review: Stakeholder Consultative Meeting in Accra.

The two-day meeting which is on the theme: “Towards a more equitable and accountable NHIS,” is a larger consultative forum to elicit a broad range of views on how to strengthen the NHIS and increase its coverage through innovative financing.

The government last year constituted a committee to review the current status of the NHIS and make proposals for its reform, taking into account especially the significant financial challenges faced by the scheme.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur stated that the health insurance scheme is an integral part of the country’s social protection strategy which is intended to guarantee access to basic healthcare services without having to pay out of one’s pocket for service delivery.

He said the government is committed to provide healthcare based on an efficient NHIS with the aim of progressing to universal health coverage.

He said an integral part of this strategy is the Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS Compound) which is the key driver of primary healthcare to underserved communities in the rural areas.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said currently the NHIS benefit package covers about 95 per cent of disease conditions reported in the country.

He said the cost of providing healthcare to NHIS members is increasing much faster than the financial resources available to the scheme.

He said the increasing cost of healthcare has contributed to the inability of the NHIS to settle claims to healthcare providers on time.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur therefore challenged the health professionals to come out with proposals to ensure the sustainability of the scheme in terms of the insurance design, financing mechanism, population coverage, benefit package, cost containment as well as compensation for healthcare providers.

He expressed the hope that the work of the Technical Review Committee would provide the basis for sustainable, equitable and accountable health insurance scheme.

Mr Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance, called for active participation of the private sector in the development of healthcare infrastructure.

This means investors have to be certain about good returns on their investments.

He said an effective and efficient health insurance scheme that pays service providers on time could serve as incentive to investors to participate in the scheme.

He said the banks as investors should also play a more active role in the development of healthcare infrastructure.

Dr Chris Atim, Chairman of the NHIS Review Committee said after nine months of intensive consultations and evidence gathering the committee made four key recommendations for the government’s attention.

He said the committee recommended a universal guaranteed Primary Healthcare package for residents as well as a guaranteed maternal and child health package at all levels of the health system.

He said the recommendations also called for the empowerment of the NHIS beneficiaries and members through actively informed and involved membership.

He said the committee proposed improved governance of a more accountable and efficiently-run NHIS regarding its investments and spending decisions.

GNA