Opinion: Health Insurance Problems Must Be Promptly Fixed, Mr. President! By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo/Photo: Presidency

No one expects the President to be perfect or impeccably knowledgeable about all aspects of our national economy and the various ministerial sectors. But when he is scheduled to do a major speech presentation, such as he was recently reported to have done at the London School of Economics, then it behooves Nana Akufo-Addo to ensure that he has his facts and figures accurately up at his fingertips, as it were. Else, he risks making a laughing stock of himself and of the country at large before the proverbial international community (See “National Health Insurance Scheme Not Sustainable – Health Minister Reveals” Starrfmonline.com / Modernghana.com 4/23/18).

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At the London School of Economics’ forum, themed “Africa at Work: Educated, Employed and Empowered,” Nana Akufo-Addo is reported to have asserted that of the GHȻ 1.2 Billion debt bequeathed his Administration by the democratically ousted President John Dramani Mahama regime of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) sector, the 15-month old ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) had been able to defray what amounted to a little under 90-percent of such debt. But, of course, as the old dictum goes, the devil was in the details of the President’s London speech; and it was the rather embarrassing fact that either Nana Akufo-Addo had expediently and conveniently ignored the fact that he had omitted debts racked up by his own government, or he facilely and mischievously assumed that maligning his admittedly grossly incompetent predecessor stood to make him look like the administrative genius that he is, indeed, dangerously close to becoming.

But even more perplexing is when your own Health Minister has to promptly set the records straight by revealing, wistfully, that while, indeed, a modicum of significant progress has been made since the NPP assumed the democratic reins of governance, such progress, nevertheless, amounts to a premature economizing with the truth to imply that under your watch, absolutely no budgetary deficit or debt has been racked up in the laudable process of trying to set things aright (See “NHIS Service Providers Contradict Akufo-Addo Over Debt Payment” Starrfmonline.com / Modernghana.com 4/23/18).

According to Dr. Joseph Tambil – I hope I have his last name spelled correctly, one cannot always trust Ghanaian journalism these days – at least 10 months’ worth of arrears accrued by the NHIS is owed our healthcare providers, largely private doctors and public hospitals, have yet to be fully settled. This is how the President of the Medical Superintendents’ Group put it: “The government says that they have released X amount of money. We expect that, that amount of money should also hit our account. But, in fact, even as we speak, that is not the case. This is not the first announcement that we have heard. We keep hearing things like that. ‘We have cleared the arrears, we have cleared the debt,’”

Now, that sounds like the vacuous media spin that came to be infamously associated with the outgone regime of the John Dramani Mahama-led National Democratic Congress. In significantly practical terms, what Dr. Tambil clearly seems to be saying is that the Akufo-Addo Administration has yet to make a one-pesewa down payment on the GHȻ 1.2 Billion debt that it officially claims to have inherited from the previous regime. In short, either the President’s speechwriters have been brazenly playing some Nintendo games with his otherwise genius and foresighted imagination, or those of his appointees charged with overseeing the payment of the NHIS bills or tabs have apparently been deliberately playing fast-and-loose with such monies or, in effect, been paying such monies into accounts belonging to other than our healthcare providers.

 

In a breakdown of NHIS arrears figures in the President’s own electoral stronghold of the Eastern Region, Dr. Tambil, the President of the Medical Superintendents’ Group, noted that four months of arrears are outstanding for 2016, and six months, representing the entire second-half of last year, 2017. Whatever the real-case scenario may be, it is quite clear that truth and the objective reality are more closely aligned with the testimony of Dr. Tambil. Recently, for instance, the Health Minister, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, critically revealed that unless the current health-insurance premiums are ticked up at least one-percentage point, the future viability of the Scheme would be seriously open to doubt.

Somebody in Jubilee House must be fiddling with the health needs, desires and aspirations of the Ghanaian people. President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had better sit up and listen with attentive ears.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

The views expressed by this author remain solely their own and are not to be taken as the view of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com,  www.zongonews.com and ZongoNews Radio & TV