Founding President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, has advised flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, to take a second look at his promise to make primary health care free.
According to Franklin Cudjoe, instead of making it free, Mr Mahama should consider reviewing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) so the state does not continue to take up a lot of the bills.
“We need to expand in such a way that we don’t add up to the debt. Don’t forget that the National Health Insurance is always in arrears. It is over-burdened,” he told GhanaWeb.
Without delving into the details, former President John Mahama, who is seeking re-election into the Jubilee/Flagstaff House in the December election made a bold promise to make primary healthcare free for all Ghanaians if elected as President.
“We will implement a Free Primary Health Care Plan. This will make the provision of primary health care to all Ghanaians, young and elderly, free,” the former President said during an event to outdoor Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as his running mate.
Mr Cudjoe says he foresees “sustainability challenges” in the proposal.
“There is opportunity to block some of these challenges by increasing the uptake of private health scheme. The private health scheme should be liberalised in such a way that the entry barriers are reduced. Some of them are asked to pay close to a million or two million to get licenses,” he said.
He said a paper published by IMANI in 2017 explores potential mechanisms and models for an increasing and ensuring sustainable source for Ghana’s health financing system and the NHIS.
“This comprises of amending the current NHIS, increasing revenue source of the scheme by widening the tax base, adequately targeting services to the most vulnerable, and addressing administrative inefficiencies,” he said.
According to the IMANI Africa boss, possible outcomes of the expansion include increased competition leading to lower premiums, increased negotiation power of an oligarchy of health facilities leading to lower costs for PHIPs and overall increase in access to healthcare.
“Sustainable access to healthcare could be achieved in Ghana by focusing the NHIS on the poorest. Those in formal employment should be encouraged to move into private health insurance schemes,” he proffered.