The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Dr Nana Ayew Afriyie, has said the private health sector is suffering under the current economic dispensation of the country.
The situation, he says, has dire consequences for the general health of the people.
Dr Afriye, who is the Member of Parliament for the Effiduase/Asokore Constituency in the Ashanti Region, made this known at the 2nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Private Health Facilities Association of Ghana (PHFAoG) in Accra yesterday.
The 3-day conference is on the theme: Confronting Challenges Facing Private Health Providers in Ghana- The Role of the State.
Dr Afriye has, therefore, called on the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure that it paid private providers on time to help address the issue of co-paying in private facilities.
According to him, 70 per cent of the things used in hospitals are imported and, therefore, the current free fall of the cedi coupled with the delays in payment from the NHIA was pushing private health providers to the brink of collapsing.
In spite of the current challenges that private health facilities, which Dr Afriye described as a social sector, was going through, they were also being harassed by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) with new taxes and said the GRA should put a human face to their work.
Also, he blamed the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) saying the 2.5 per cent levy on the NHIA was not being paid and, therefore, leaving the NHIA handicapped, a situation, which he said, was the major cause of the late reimbursement of providers.
Dr Afriyie said it was time the Ministry of Health provided subsidies to providers so they could use that to cushion themselves from the harsh economic conditions and continue to partner the government in providing quality health care for the people.
He said providers did not have the choice but to pass on some of the payments to patients.
The National President of the Private Health Facilities of Ghana, Dr Kwame Buabeng Frimpong, said it was pathetic to know that while private health service providers made frantic effort to support the blueprints of the government in making health care accessible and affordable to all.
According to him, the government had a big role to play in helping to minimise, if not eliminate, the many difficult challenges confronting private health service and mentioned some of the key challenges to include institutional liquidity explaining that over the years, erratic reimbursement pattern by the NHIA and the various Private Health Insurance schemes had resulted in serious states of financial insufficiency for many private health institutions.
He said the erratic reimbursement of submitted claims posed unbearable financial burden to facilities as a result of which many get compelled to adopt one or more survival strategies, some of which might be described as unacceptable, unapproved, or illegal.
He further called on the NHIA, to consider upward reviews of the July 2022 tariff to reflect current market trends and currency dynamics, saying “we would be very appreciative if the NHIA could invite us to join the table that will discuss the amendments”.
Dr Frimpong called on the government to balance the scales of staff distribution to ensure all sectors were well resourced for maximum efficiency.
“Beside the fact that we struggle to get some of these professionals to remain in our facilities, we witness the exportation or exodus of the needed staff to countries such as Barbados, the UK, United States of America and Canada,” he stated.
The Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr Baffour Awuah, who represented the Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, gave an assurance that the ministry was working around the challenges confronting private healthcare providers.
He called on them to take advantage of some of the policies of the MoH such as on human resources for health so as to inform themselves.