The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on Thursday held a stakeholder?s dialogue to review the benefit packages of the scheme and make the necessary changes in cognizance with current healthcare needs.
The two-day dialogue is also providing opportunity for the stakeholders to reconcile various view points on the benefit packages with Ghana?s context and international experience.
The theme for the dialogue is; ?An Equitable and Sustainable Benefits Package based on Evidence? and it is to facilitate a comprehensive discussion on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) benefits with a view to eliciting views to make it sustainable, equitable, evidence based, and constitute it into a catalyst for quality care.
Mr Sylvester Mensah, Chief Executive Officer of NHIA, said since the introduction of the NHIS in 2003, it had more than 10 million residents in Ghana as active members, calling for such a dialogue at reviewing the kind of healthcare services being provided by the scheme.
He said the dialogue would look at the evolving landscape, both local and international, on the benefit package design and implementation and engage stakeholders in a way that emphasised social ownership.
Mr Mensah reiterated joint responsibility in ensuring the survival of the NHIS as well as its ability to provide quality, cost effective and equitable services to its members.
He said the dialogue would, thus, have to come out with policy that would ensure benefit packages that was technically able to deliver the desired benefits and be capable of being delivered successfully.
Such packages should not be a burden on society but take into account individual illness as well as social spillovers in the form of epidemics like cholera and adverse economic effects.
The package should further ensure that social benefits exceeded costs and also ensure that the needs of the poor and vulnerable were stressed, Mr Mensah said.
Dr Kwaku Agyemang Mensah, Minister of Health, said within the 10 years of operating the health benefit package, substantial changes had occurred on the health landscape, in the economy and demographics of the country in addition to other factors that affected healthcare service provision, necessitating the dialogue.
He said the existing package was also shaped by healthcare considerations and implication to reflect the balance between aspirations to quality health care on one hand, and affordability and sustainability on the other.
He, therefore, urged participants not to lose sight of the cost implications of whatever benefit packages they proposed.
The Minister further gave assurance of his Ministry?s resolve to intensify efforts to drastically reduce or eliminate maternal mortality in the country against the background of successful removal of financial barriers to maternal health services.
Ms Akua Boateng of the USAID, on behalf of development partners, said Ghana?s NHIS still remained a model to many countries worldwide but urged that more needed to be done towards moving the scheme to universal access.
She emphasised the importance of a sustainable health financing in the country.
Ms Mona Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance, urged the participants to, among other things, fashion out measures that would help remove the bottlenecks in the HHIS.
Topics to be discussed are; ?Ghana?s experience with development of Standard Treatment Protocols; Overview of Ghana?s NHIS Benefits Package Design and Implementation; International Experience on the Benefits Package Design; and Evidence as a Basis for Benefits Package Design: The role of Health Technology Assessment?.