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The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has started processes to enrol foreigners onto the National Health Insurance Scheme.
A Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Naa Ayeley Mensah, said a draft national non-resident visitors health insurance policy had been developed to provide a framework to deliver a national non-resident visitors health insurance scheme (NNRVHIS) for non-residents who travel to the country for business, tourism, pleasure and other interests.
She was speaking at an event to commemorate this year’s International Universal Health Coverage Day on the theme: “Health for all: Time for action,” in Accra yesterday.
The NNRVHIS is a health insurance scheme that was required by law for non-residents visiting the country, in line with the National Health Insurance Act, 2012 (Act 852).
When it takes effect, persons who are not resident in Ghana, but who intend to travel and live in the country legally for less than six months in any period of 12 months would be required to subscribe to the NNRVHIS before embarking on the journey.
It forms part of the country’s universal health coverage (UHC) roadmap aimed at achieving 100 per cent health insurance coverage at the primary health care level by 2030.
A 2021 Holistic Assessment Report of the Ministry of Health indicated that the proportion of the country’s population with active NHIS membership stood at 16.8 million, representing 57.3 per cent.
The deputy minister said: “In the spirit of leaving no one behind, we are determined not to only increase NHIS coverage for residents, but also extend it to cover non-resident visitors.”
To increase investment in the NHIS, she said the ministry was collaborating with the NHIA and other agencies and partners to develop a comprehensive essential health service package (EHSP) that would expand NHIS benefits to include interventions that provide services to cover promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative cases.
Ms Mensah also said that the country had little over six years to achieve the UHC target, adding “this is a clear indication that there is not enough time, the time to act is now!”
The National Professional Officer for Malaria at WHO, Dr Felicia Owusu Antwi, highlighted the findings of a publication by the organisation and the World Bank Group titled: “Tracking universal health coverage: 2023 global monitoring report”.
The report indicated that expansion of health service coverage had largely stalled, while financial protection for those who received health services had worsened.
The report also showed that as of 2021, about half the world’s population, representing 4.5 billion people were not covered by essential health services, while in 2019, about two billion people experienced financial hardship due to out-of-pocket spending on health, including 344 million people living in extreme poverty.
“This is an indication that reaching the goal of UHC by 2030 requires substantial public investment and effort,” she said.
The Chairman of the Ghana Coalition of non-governmental agencies in health, Bright Amissah-Nyarko, called for adequate budget, prompt allocation and disbursement of sufficient funds for all emergency health interventions.