The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) will fully roll-out a mechanism to involve the public more in its accountability process, Deputy Chief Executive, Operations, Dr Lydia Baaba Dsane-Selby has said.
A lack of proper accountability by some service providers of the national health insurance scheme, and outright fraud, has hobbled development of the scheme for some time now.
In a roundtable discussion on health, Dsane-Selby explained that “the NHIA is roping in the public by means of mobile technology, which will be our eyes and ears on the ground.”
The authority will be using the USSD technology, which is cheap and fast and works everywhere.
Dsane-Selby indicated that the Authority has started the mobile renewal system, which gives subscribers to the scheme an alert to verify, non-biometrically, whenever a claim is made by any healthcare provider.
This gives the member the option to select yes or no, depending on whether an actual healthcare service is being administered.
This is being piloted only in two districts, Asuogyaman and West Mamprusi districts in the Eastern and the Upper West regions, respectively. Dsane-Selby said the response on ensuring accountability has revealed some irregularities.
“If we do it right, the public involvement would make a big difference in false claims and related issues,” she said.
In recent years, the country spends about US$ 1.2 billion on average in the health sector, which is higher in percentage-of-GDP terms, when compared to all other countries in West Africa.
This notwithstanding, estimates have shown that outcomes have been on the decline.
Dr Dsane-Selby stated that this new mechanism will reduce the expenditure on renewal process at the various district offices, in the form of printers, ribbons and consumables, among others.
“It could cut our expenditure by 50 percent in that area, which can then be used for other things,” she said.
Due to some irregularities in the health sector, it is estimated that about US$ 500 million may be wasted per annum.
All service providers will ultimately be provided with authentication devices for those clients on the non-biometric.
Dr Dsane-Selby indicated that the authority is awaiting permission from the office of the Controller and Accountant-General, since it would involve some funds.
Once that permission is given, the full roll-out would take place district by district, she added.
By Joshua W. Amlanu