Some subscribers to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have complained about charges and payments at health facilities to receive treatment even though their subscriptions have not expired.
They said they had been asked to buy and or pay for almost everything used on them or required for their treatment, and indicated that such charges made them feel that the NHIS was not working effectively.
They expressed their concerns when the Ghana News Agency interacted with them at the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), Tamale Central Hospital and the Tamale West Hospital to ascertain how NHIS subscribers assessed the treatment they received at the hospitals.
Mr Mantapa Siahadu Gad, a relative of a patient on admission, said on Saturday, March 27, this year, his brother was transferred from the Bimbi Hospital in the Nakpanduri-Nasuan District of the North East Region to TTH after he fell from a tree on that day (Saturday).
Mr Gad said “We got to TTH at 7pm but they started attending to us after midnight. They wrote medicines including bandages for us to buy and we spent GHC245.00 to buy them. Apart from what we bought, they have not given him any other medicine. Today (Monday) they asked us to go and do a CT scan on his head. They say they do not have a CT scan machine at the TTH. So, they showed us a pharmacy just opposite the TTH to go and do it and we did it and paid GHc480.00.”
He spoke about what he was going through even as his brother was a valid NHIS subscriber saying “actually, I am not happy with what is going on because when he fell, his head hit the ground and ever since we came, they have not done anything about it. It makes me feel that the NHIS is not working.”
A lady, who did not want to be named, said she delivered a baby at TTH on March 17, this year, and was discharged on March 20.
She said “From what I experienced, I do not think NHIS is now more active as before. I did not pay for bed but I paid for a lot of drugs and some were prescribed for me to buy outside of the TTH and the prices ranged from GHC5 to GHC10. Why can’t NHIS cover such drugs?
At Tamale Central Hospital, Mr Alhassan Abdulai said he brought his wife for treatment after she was involved in a motor accident on Monday morning (March 29) in Tamale.
Mr Abdulai said a scan was done on his wife’s arm and he was asked to pay GHC40.00 because the scan was not covered by the NHIS, adding he paid the money but he was not happy about the situation.
Another man, who spoke on anonymity at the Labour Ward at the Tamale Central Hospital on Monday (March 29), said he brought his wife to deliver and he was asked to buy gloves and bandages, which he obliged.
Some relatives of patients at the Tamale West Hospital also recounted similar experiences, saying they expected NHIS to cover some of the minor treatments that they received at the Hospital.
Mr Abdul Latif Issahaque, Northern Regional Director of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) was not happy that issues of charging subscribers for services covered by the NHIS kept recurring even though Management of the NHIA had held several meetings with the Managements of the hospitals to impress on them to put an end to such practices.
Mr Issahaque said about 95 per cent of drugs used at the hospitals were covered by the NHIS, adding that charging subscribers for services covered by the NHIS was a cost to the subscriber as well as the NHIA, which defeated the purpose of the health insurance, meant to take away the cost element to make health care available to all.
He, therefore, appealed to members of the public to report instances of illegal charges at health facilities to the NHIA for appropriate actions to be taken against the erring health facilities.