There is considerable interest at present in exploring the potential of social health insurance to increase access to and affordability of health care in Africa. A number of countries are currently experimenting with different approaches. Ghana's National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was passed into law in 2003 but fully implemented from late 2005. It has already reached impressive coverage levels. This article aims to provide a preliminary assessment of the NHIS to date. This can inform the development of the NHIS itself but also other innovations in the region.
This article is based on analysis of routine data, on secondary literature and on key informant interviews conducted by the authors with stakeholders at national, regional and district levels over the period of 2005 to 2009.
In relation to its financing sources, the NHIS is heavily reliant on tax funding for 70–75% of its revenue. This has permitted quick expansion of coverage, partly through the inclusion of large exempted population groups. Card holders increased from 7% of the population in 2005 to 45% in 2008. However, only around a third of these are contributing to the scheme financially. This presents a sustainability problem, in that revenue is de-coupled from the growing membership. In addition, the NHIS offers a broad benefits package, with no co-payments and limited gate-keeping, and also faces cost escalation related to its new payment system and the growing utilisation of members. These features contributed to a growth in distressed schemes and failure to pay outstanding facility claims in 2008.
The NHIS has had a considerable impact on the health system as a whole, taking on a growing role in funding curative care. In 2009, it is expected to contribute 41% of the overall resource envelope. However there is evidence that this funding is not additional but has been switched from other funding channels. There are some equity concerns about this, as the new funding source (a VAT-based tax) may be more regressive. In addition, membership of the NHIS at present has a pro-rich bias, and a pro-urban bias in relation to renewals. Only a very small proportion is registered as indigent, and there is some evidence of 'squeezing out' of non-members from health care utilisation. Finally, considerable challenges remain in relation to strengthening the purchasing role of the NHIS, and also settling debates about its structure and accountability.
Some trade-offs will be necessary between the existing wide benefits package of the NHIS and the laudable desire to reach universal coverage. The overall resource envelope for health is likely to be stable rather than increasing over the medium-term. In the longer term, the investment costs in the NHIS will only be justified if it is able to increase the cost-effectiveness of purchasing and the responsiveness of the system as a whole.
Uganda is the last East African country to adopt a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). To lessen the inequitable burden of healthcare spending, health financing reform has focused on the establishment of national health insurance. The objective of this research is to depict how stakeholders and their power and interests have shaped the process of agenda setting and policy formulation for Uganda’s proposed NHIS. The study provides a contextual analysis of the development of NHIS policy within the context of national policies and processes.
The methodology is a single case study of agenda setting and policy formulation related to the proposed NHIS in Uganda. It involves an analysis of the real-life context, the content of proposals, the process, and a retrospective stakeholder analysis in terms of policy development. Data collection comprised a literature review of published documents, technical reports, policy briefs, and memos obtained from Uganda’s Ministry of Health and other unpublished sources. Formal discussions were held with ministry staff involved in the design of the scheme and some members of the task force to obtain clarification, verify events, and gain additional information.
The process of developing the NHIS has been an incremental one, characterised by small-scale, gradual changes and repeated adjustments through various stakeholder engagements during the three phases of development: from 1995 to 1999; 2000 to 2005; and 2006 to 2011. Despite political will in the government, progress with the NHIS has been slow, and it has yet to be implemented. Stakeholders, notably the private sector, played an important role in influencing the pace of the development process and the currently proposed design of the scheme.
This study underscores the importance of stakeholder analysis in major health reforms. Early use of stakeholder analysis combined with an ongoing review and revision of NHIS policy proposals during stakeholder discussions would be an effective strategy for avoiding potential pitfalls and obstacles in policy implementation. Given the private sector’s influence on negotiations over health insurance design in Uganda, this paper also reviews the experience of two countries with similar stakeholder dynamics.
Health insurance; Stakeholder analysis; Context analysis; Policy reform; Health financing; Case study; Uganda
The government of Ghana introduced the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2003 through an Act of Parliament (Act 650) as a strategy to improve financial access to quality basic health care services. Although attendance at health facilities has increased since the introduction of the NHIS, there have been media reports of widespread abuse of the NHIS by scheme operators, service providers and insured persons. The aim of the study was to document behaviors and practices of service providers and clients of the NHIS in the Kassena-Nankana District (KND) of Ghana that constitute moral hazards (abuse of the scheme) and identify strategies to minimize such behaviors.
Qualitative methods through 14 Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) and 5 individual in-depth interviews were conducted between December 2009 and January 2010. Thematic analysis was performed with the aid of QSR NVivo 8 software.
Analysis of FGDs and in-depth interviews showed that community members, health providers and NHIS officers are aware of various behaviors and practices that constitute abuse of the scheme. Behaviors such as frequent and ‘frivolous’ visits to health facilities, impersonation, feigning sickness to collect drugs for non-insured persons, over charging for services provided to clients, charging clients for services not provided and over prescription were identified. Suggestions on how to minimize abuse of the NHIS offered by respondents included: reduction of premiums and registration fees, premium payments by installment, improvement in the picture quality of the membership cards, critical examination and verification of membership cards at health facilities, some ceiling on the number of times one can seek health care within a specified time period, and general education to change behaviors that abuse the scheme.
Attention should be focused on addressing the identified moral hazard behaviors and pursue cost containment strategies to ensure the smooth operation of the scheme and enhance its sustainability.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-1133-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Health insurance; Moral hazard; Kassena-Nankana District; Ghana
Excessive healthcare payments can impede access to health services and also disrupt the welfare of households with no financial protection. Health insurance is expected to offer financial protection against health shocks. Ghana began the implementation of its National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2004. The NHIS is aimed at removing the financial barrier to healthcare by limiting direct out-of-pocket health expenditures (OOPHE). The study examines the effect of the NHIS on OOPHE and how it protects households against catastrophic health expenditures.
Data was obtained from a cross-sectional representative household survey involving 2,430 households from three districts across Ghana. All OOPHE associated with treatment seeking for reported illness in the household in the last 4 weeks preceding the survey were analysed and compared between insured and uninsured persons. The incidence and intensity of catastrophic health expenditures (CHE) among households were measured by the catastrophic health payment method. The relative effect of NHIS on the incidence of CHE in the household was estimated by multiple logistic regression analysis.
About 36% of households reported at least one illness during the 4 weeks period. Insured patients had significantly lower direct OOPHE for out-patient and in-patient care compared to the uninsured. On financial protection, the incidence of CHE was lower among insured households (2.9%) compared to the partially insured (3.7%) and the uninsured (4.0%) at the 40% threshold. The incidence of CHE was however significantly lower among fully insured households (6.0%) which sought healthcare from NHIS accredited health facilities compared to the partially insured (10.1%) and the uninsured households (23.2%). The likelihood of a household incurring CHE was 4.2 times less likely for fully insured and 2.9 times less likely for partially insured households relative to being uninsured. The NHIS has however not completely eliminated OOPHE for the insured and their households.
The NHIS has significant effect in reducing OOPHE and offers financial protection against CHE for insured individuals and their households though they still made some out-of-pocket payments. Efforts should aim at eliminating OOPHE for the insured if the objective for establishing the NHIS is to be achieved.
Nigeria and Ghana have recently introduced a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) with the aim of moving towards universal health care using more equitable financing mechanisms. This study compares health and economic indicators, describes the structure of each country’s NHIS within the wider healthcare system, and analyses impacts on equity in financing and access to health care.
The World Bank and other sources were used to provide comparative health and economic data. Pubmed, Embase and EconLit were searched to locate studies providing descriptions of each NHIS and empirical evidence regarding equity in financing and access to health care. A diagrammatical representation of revenue-raising, pooling, purchasing and provision was produced in order to analyse the two countries’ systems.
Over the period 2000–2010, Ghana maintained a marked advantage in life expectancy, infant mortality, under-5 year mortality, and has a lower burden of major diseases. Health care expenditure is about 5% of GDP in both countries but public expenditure in 2010 was 38% of total expenditure in Nigeria and 60% in Ghana. Financing and access are less equitable in Nigeria as, inter alia, private out-of-pocket expenditure has fallen from 80% to 66% of total spending in Ghana since the introduction of its NHIS but has remained at over 90% in Nigeria; NHIS membership in Nigeria and Ghana is approximately 3.5% and 65%, respectively; Nigeria offers a variable benefits package depending on membership category while Ghana has uniform benefits across all beneficiaries. Both countries exhibit improvements in equity but there is a pro-rich and pro-urban bias in membership.
Major health indicators are more favourable in Ghana and overall equity in financing and access are weaker in Nigeria. Nigeria is taking steps to expand NHIS membership and has potential to expand its public spending to achieve greater equity. However, heavy burdens of poverty, disease and remote settings make this a substantial challenge. Ghana’s relative success has to be tempered by the high number of exemptions through taxation and the threat of moral hazard. The results and methods are anticipated to be informative for policy makers and researchers in both countries and other developing countries more widely.
Healthcare systems; Health economics; Health care expenditure; Access; Equity; Social health insurance; National Health Insurance Scheme; NHIS; Sub-Saharan Africa; Nigeria; Ghana
Access to health insurance is expected to have positive effect in improving access to healthcare and offer financial risk protection to households. Ghana began the implementation of a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 2004 as a way to ensure equitable access to basic healthcare for all residents. After a decade of its implementation, national coverage is just about 34% of the national population. Affordability of the NHIS contribution is often cited by households as a major barrier to enrolment in the NHIS without any rigorous analysis of this claim. In light of the global interest in achieving universal health insurance coverage, this study seeks to examine the extent to which affordability of the NHIS contribution is a barrier to full insurance for households and a burden on their resources.
The study uses data from a cross-sectional household survey involving 2,430 households from three districts in Ghana conducted between January-April, 2011. Affordability of the NHIS contribution is analysed using the household budget-based approach based on the normative definition of affordability. The burden of the NHIS contributions to households is assessed by relating the expected annual NHIS contribution to household non-food expenditure and total consumption expenditure. Households which cannot afford full insurance were identified.
Results show that 66% of uninsured households and 70% of partially insured households could afford full insurance for their members. Enroling all household members in the NHIS would account for 5.9% of household non-food expenditure or 2.0% of total expenditure but higher for households in the first (11.4%) and second (7.0%) socio-economic quintiles. All the households (29%) identified as unable to afford full insurance were in the two lower socio-economic quintiles and had large household sizes. Non-financial factors relating to attributes of the insurer and health system problems also affect enrolment in the NHIS.
Affordability of full insurance would be a burden on households with low socio-economic status and large household size. Innovative measures are needed to encourage abled households to enrol. Policy should aim at abolishing the registration fee for children, pricing insurance according to socio-economic status of households and addressing the inimical non-financial factors to increase NHIS coverage.
Voluntary health insurance; Universal coverage; Enrolment; Premium; Affordability; Ghana
Many Low-and-Middle-Income countries are considering reviewing their health financing systems to meet the principles of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). One financing mechanism, which has dominated UHC reforms, is the development of health insurance schemes. We trace the historical development of the National Health Insurance (NHI) policy, illuminate stakeholders’ perceptions on the design to inform future development of health financing policies in Kenya.
We conducted a retrospective policy analysis of the development of a NHI policy in Kenya using data from document reviews and seven in depth interviews with key stakeholders involved in the NHI design. Analysis was conducted using a thematic framework.
The design of a NHI scheme was marked by complex interaction of the actor’s understanding of the design, proposed implementation strategies and the covert opposition of the reform due to several reasons. First, actor’s perception of the cost of the NHI design and its implication to the economy generated opposition. This was due to inadequate communication strategies to articulate the policy, leading to a vacuum of factual information flow to various players. Secondly, perceived fear of implications of the changes among private sector players threatened support and success gained. Thirdly, underlying mistrust associated with perceived lack of government’s commitment towards transparency and good governance affected active engagement of all key players dampening the spirit of collective bargain breeding opposition. Finally, some international actors perceived a clash of their role and that of international programs based on vertical approaches that were inherent in the health system.
The thrust towards UHC using NHI schemes should not only focus on the design of a viable NHI package but should also involve stakeholder engagements, devise ways of improving the health care system, enhance transparency and develop adequate governance structures to institutions mandated to provide leadership in the reform process to overcome covert opposition.
Health insurance; Universal health care coverage; Policy Analysis
Nigeria has included a regulated community-based health insurance (CBHI) model within its National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Uptake to date has been disappointing, however. The aim of this study is to review the present status of CBHI in SSA in general to highlight the issues that affect its successful integration within the NHIS of Nigeria and more widely in developing countries.
A literature survey using PubMed and EconLit was carried out to identify and review studies that report factors affecting implementation of CBHI in SSA with a focus on Nigeria.
CBHI schemes with a variety of designs have been introduced across SSA but with generally disappointing results so far. Two exceptions are Ghana and Rwanda, both of which have introduced schemes with effective government control and support coupled with intensive implementation programmes. Poor support for CBHI is repeatedly linked elsewhere with failure to engage and account for the ‘real world’ needs of beneficiaries, lack of clear legislative and regulatory frameworks, inadequate financial support, and unrealistic enrolment requirements. Nigeria’s CBHI-type schemes for the informal sectors of its NHIS have been set up under an appropriate legislative framework, but work is needed to eliminate regressive financing, to involve scheme members in the setting up and management of programmes, to inform and educate more effectively, to eliminate lack of confidence in the schemes, and to address inequity in provision. Targeted subsidies should also be considered.
Disappointing uptake of CBHI-type NHIS elements in Nigeria can be addressed through closer integration of informal and formal programmes under the NHIS umbrella, with increasing involvement of beneficiaries in scheme design and management, improved communication and education, and targeted financial assistance.
Community-Based Health Insurance; CBHI; Healthcare; National Health Insurance Scheme; NHIS; Sub-Saharan Africa; Nigeria
Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), established into law in 2003 and implemented in 2005 as a ‘pro-poor’ method of health financing, has made great progress in enrolling members of the general population. While many studies have focused on predictors of enrolment this study offers a novel analysis of NHIS members’ perceptions of service provision at the national level.
Using data from the 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey we analyzed the perceptions of service provision as indicated by members enrolled in the NHIS at the time of the survey (n = 3468; m = 1422; f = 2046). Ordinal Logistic Regression was applied to examine the relationship between perceptions of service provision and theoretically relevant socioeconomic and demographic variables.
Results demonstrate that wealth, gender and ethnicity all play a role in influencing members’ perceptions of NHIS service provision, distinctive from its influence on enrolment. Notably, although wealth predicted enrolment in other studies, our study found that compared to the poorest men and uneducated women, wealthy men and educated women were less likely to perceive their service provision as better/same (more likely to report it was worse). Wealth was not an important factor for women, suggesting that household gender dynamics supersede household wealth status in influencing perceptions. As well, when compared to Akan women, women from all other ethnic groups were about half as likely to perceive the service provision to be better/same.
Findings of this study suggest there is an important difference between originally enrolling in the NHIS because one believes it is potentially beneficial, and using the NHIS and perceiving it to be of benefit. We conclude that understanding the nature of this relationship is essential for Ghana’s NHIS to ensure its longevity and meet its pro-poor mandate. As national health insurance systems are a relatively new phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa little is known about their long term viability; understanding user perceptions of service provision is an important piece of that puzzle.
Health care; Ghana; Health insurance; National health insurance scheme; Perceptions; Service
Globally, extending financial protection and equitable access to health services to those outside the formal sector employment is a major challenge for achieving universal coverage. While some favour contributory schemes, others have embraced tax-funded health service cover for those outside the formal sector. This paper critically examines the issue of how to cover those outside the formal sector through the lens of stakeholder views on the proposed one-time premium payment (OTPP) policy in Ghana.
Ghana in 2004 implemented a National Health Insurance Scheme, based on a contributory model where service benefits are restricted to those who contribute (with some groups exempted from contributing), as the policy direction for moving towards universal coverage. In 2008, the OTPP system was proposed as an alternative way of ensuring coverage for those outside formal sector employment. There are divergent stakeholder views with regard to the meaning of the one-time premium and how it will be financed and sustained. Our stakeholder interviews indicate that the underlying issue being debated is whether the current contributory NHIS model for those outside the formal employment sector should be maintained or whether services for this group should be tax funded. However, the advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives are not being explored in an explicit or systematic way and are obscured by the considerable confusion about the likely design of the OTPP policy. We attempt to contribute to the broader debate about how best to fund coverage for those outside the formal sector by unpacking some of these issues and pointing to the empirical evidence needed to shed even further light on appropriate funding mechanisms for universal health systems.
The Ghanaian debate on OTPP is related to one of the most important challenges facing low- and middle-income countries seeking to achieve a universal health care system. It is critical that there is more extensive debate on the advantages and disadvantages of alternative funding mechanisms, supported by a solid evidence base, and with the policy objective of universal coverage providing the guiding light.
Universal health care coverage; National health insurance; Policy objective; Policy options; Those outside formal sector employment; Tax funding; One-time premium payment; Ghana
Health insurance is currently being considered as a mechanism for promoting progress to universal health coverage (UHC) in many African countries. The concept of health insurance is relatively new in Africa, it is hardly well understood and remains unclear how it will function in countries where the majority of the population work outside the formal sector. Kenya has been considering introducing a national health insurance scheme (NHIS) since 2004. Progress has been slow, but commitment to achieve UHC through a NHIS remains. This study contributes to this process by exploring communities’ understanding and perceptions of health insurance and their preferred designs features. Communities are the major beneficiaries of UHC reforms. Kenyans should understand the implications of health financing reforms and their preferred design features considered to ensure acceptability and sustainability.
Data presented in this paper are part of a study that explored feasibility of health insurance in Kenya. Data collection methods included a cross-sectional household survey (n = 594 households) and focus group discussions (n = 16).
About half of the household survey respondents had at least one member in a health insurance scheme. There was high awareness of health insurance schemes but limited knowledge of how health insurance functions as well as understanding of key concepts related to income and risk cross-subsidization. Wide dissatisfaction with the public health system was reported. However, the government was the most preferred and trusted agency for collecting revenue as part of a NHIS. People preferred a comprehensive benefit package that included inpatient and outpatient care with no co-payments. Affordability of premiums, timing of contributions and the extent to which population needs would be met under a contributory scheme were major issues of concern for a NHIS design. Possibilities of funding health care through tax instead of NHIS were raised and preferred by the majority.
This study provides important information on community understanding and perceptions of health insurance. As Kenya continues to prepare for UHC, it is important that communities are educated and engaged to ensure that the NHIS is acceptable to the population it serves.
Prepayments and risk pooling through social health insurance has been advocated by international development organizations. Social health insurance is seen as a mechanism that helps mobilize resources for health, pool risk, and provide more access to health care services for the poor. Hence Ghana implemented the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to help promote access to health care services for Ghanaians. The study examined the influence of the NHIS on the behavior of health care providers in their treatment of insured and uninsured clients.
The study took place in Bolgatanga (urban) and Builsa (rural) districts in Ghana. Data was collected through exit survey with 200 insured and uninsured clients, 15 in-depth interviews with health care providers and health insurance managers, and 8 focus group discussions with insured and uninsured community members.
The NHIS promoted access for insured and mobilized revenue for health care providers. Both insured and uninsured were satisfied with care (survey finding). However, increased utilization of health care services by the insured leading to increased workloads for providers influenced their behavior towards the insured. Most of the insured perceived and experienced long waiting times, verbal abuse, not being physically examined and discrimination in favor of the affluent and uninsured. The insured attributed their experience to the fact that they were not making immediate payments for services. A core challenge of the NHIS was a delay in reimbursement which affected the operations of health facilities and hence influenced providers’ behavior as well. Providers preferred clients who would make instant payments for health care services. Few of the uninsured were utilizing health facilities and visit only in critical conditions. This is due to the increased cost of health care services under the NHIS.
The perceived opportunistic behavior of the insured by providers was responsible for the difference in the behavior of providers favoring the uninsured. Besides, the delay in reimbursement also accounted for providers’ negative attitude towards the insured. There is urgent need to address these issues in order to promote confidence in the NHIS, as well as its sustainability for the achievement of universal coverage.
National health insurance; Social health insurance; Universal health coverage; Perceptions; Experiences; Health care providers’ behavior; Insured; Uninsured; Ghana
Individuals residing in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces who had access to public health services were surveyed to determine public knowledge and awareness of the new National Health Insurance (NHI).
A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted and a total of 748 adult respondents were sampled using a two-stage systematic sampling design. Data were collected using mobile phone assisted personal interviews.
The study found that 80.3% of the respondents were aware of the NHI and slightly less than half (49.8%) of the respondents did not have knowledge of how the NHI works and 71.8% lacked awareness about the origin of the development of the NHI concept in South Africa. The knowledge of what the NHI would pay for was poor and 48.1% knew that the NHI Fund would pay for medical expenses if a person got sick and 45.7% knew that with health insurance, basic health requirement is ensured and that if one becomes ill, medical treatment would be paid for by the NHI Fund, 50.9% of respondents did not understand how the NHI Fund will pay for health care received, only 44.8% understood how the NHI will pay for health care services received.
The public education campaigns to increase knowledge and understanding of the NHI scheme might have been inadequate hence might not have penetrated many communities. It is recommended that a comprehensive community consultation plan be established to increase awareness and knowledge of the NHI among community members targeting clinics, schools, pension pay points and other community sites.
Awareness; knowledge; National health insurance; South Africa
Numerous Caribbean countries are considering implementing National Health Insurance (NHI) and pooling resources to finance their health sectors. Based on this increased interest in health insurance, we investigated the willingness to participate and to pay for NHI in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an upper-middle-income Caribbean country.
Four hundred heads of household in St. Vincent and the Grenadines were interviewed in August 2012 and September 2012. The samples were selected through simple random sampling, including the stratification of rural, semiurban, and urban communities to ensure the representativeness of the sample. A contingent valuation method with a pretested interviewer-led questionnaire was used. Respondents were presented with a hypothetical NHI plan. Chi-squared analysis was performed to identify factors that are associated with the willingness to participate. Multiple logistic regression was used to explore the factors that influence respondents’ willingness to pay.
In total, 69.5% (n = 278) of the respondents indicated that they were willing to participate in the proposed NHI plan, of whom 72.3% were willing to pay for the first bid (EC$50). When the bid was reduced to EC$25, all of the remaining respondents who indicated they were willing to participate were willing to pay this lowered bid. Overall, the respondents were willing to pay EC$77.83 (US$28.83) per month for each person to enroll in the NHI plan. Age, income, and having some form of health insurance were significantly associated with a willingness to participate in the plan.
A higher socioeconomic status was the principal determinant factor for the willingness to participate. This is similar to studies on developing economies. The government can use these findings to guide the successful implementation of the proposed NHI program. People with a lower socioeconomic status must be engaged from the start of and throughout the development process to enhance their understanding of and participation in the plan.
National health insurance; Willingness to pay; Contingent valuation; St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Financial protection against the cost of unforeseen ill health has become a global concern as expressed in the 2005 World Health Assembly resolution (WHA58.33), which urges its member states to "plan the transition to universal coverage of their citizens". An important element of financial risk protection is to distribute health care financing fairly in relation to ability to pay. The distribution of health care financing burden across socio-economic groups has been estimated for European countries, the USA and Asia. Until recently there was no such analysis in Africa and this paper seeks to contribute to filling this gap. It presents the first comprehensive analysis of the distribution of health care financing in relation to ability to pay in Ghana.
Secondary data from the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) 2005/2006 were used. This was triangulated with data from the Ministry of Finance and other relevant sources, and further complemented with primary household data collected in six districts. We implored standard methodologies (including Kakwani index and test for dominance) for assessing progressivity in health care financing in this paper.
Ghana's health care financing system is generally progressive. The progressivity of health financing is driven largely by the overall progressivity of taxes, which account for close to 50% of health care funding. The national health insurance (NHI) levy (part of VAT) is mildly progressive and formal sector NHI payroll deductions are also progressive. However, informal sector NHI contributions were found to be regressive. Out-of-pocket payments, which account for 45% of funding, are regressive form of health payment to households.
For Ghana to attain adequate financial risk protection and ultimately achieve universal coverage, it needs to extend pre-payment cover to all in the informal sector, possibly through funding their contributions entirely from tax, and address other issues affecting the expansion of the National Health Insurance. Furthermore, the pre-payment funding pool for health care needs to grow so budgetary allocation to the health sector can be enhanced.
Pregnant women were offered free access to health care through National Health Insurance (NHIS) membership in Ghana in 2008, in the latest phase of policy reforms to ensure universal access to maternal health care. During the same year, free membership was made available to all children (under-18). This article presents an exploratory qualitative analysis of how the policy of free maternal membership was developed and how it is being implemented.
The study was based on a review of existing literature – grey and published – and on a key informant interviews (n = 13) carried out in March-June 2012. The key informants included representatives of the key stakeholders in the health system and public administration, largely at national level but also including two districts.
The introduction of the new policy for pregnant women was seen as primarily a political initiative, with limited stakeholder consultation. No costing was done prior to introduction, and no additional funds provided to the NHIS to support the policy after the first year. Guidelines had been issued but beyond collecting numbers of women registered, no additional monitoring and evaluation have yet been put in place to monitor its implementation. Awareness of the under-18 s policy amongst informants was so low that this component had to be removed from the final study. Initial barriers to access, such as pregnancy tests, were cited, but many appear to have been resolved now. Providers are concerned about the workload related to services and claims management but have benefited from increased financial resources. Users still face informal charges, and are reported to have responded differentially, with rises in antenatal care and in urban areas highlighted. Policy sustainability is linked to the survival of the NHIS as a whole.
Ghana has to be congratulated for its persistence in trying to address financial barriers. However, many themes from previous evaluations of exemptions policies in Ghana have recurred in this study – particularly, the difficulties of getting timely reimbursement to facilities, of controlling charging of patients, and of reaching the poorest. This suggests that providing free care through a national health insurance system has not solved systemic weaknesses. The wider concerns about raising the quality of care, and ensuring that all supply-side and demand-side elements are in place to make the policy effective will also take a longer term and bigger commitment.
Maternal health; Exemptions; Ghana; Health insurance; Policy process; Implementation
In 2004, Ghana started implementing a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to remove cost as a barrier to quality healthcare. Providers were initially paid by fee - for - service. In May 2008, this changed to paying providers by a combination of Ghana - Diagnostic Related Groupings (G-DRGs) for services and fee - for - service for medicines through the claims process.
The study evaluated the claims management processes for two District MHIS in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
Retrospective review of secondary claims data (2008) and a prospective observation of claims management (2009) were undertaken. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used for primary data collection using interview guides and checklists. The reimbursements rates and value of rejected claims were calculated and compared for both districts using the z test. The null hypothesis was that no differences existed in parameters measured.
Claims processes in both districts were similar and predominantly manual. There were administrative capacity, technical, human resource and working environment challenges contributing to delays in claims submission by providers and vetting and payment by schemes. Both Schemes rejected less than 1% of all claims submitted. Significant differences were observed between the Total Reimbursement Rates (TRR) and the Total Timely Reimbursement Rates (TTRR) for both schemes. For TRR, 89% and 86% were recorded for Kassena Nankana and Builsa Schemes respectively while for TTRR, 45% and 28% were recorded respectively.
Ghana's NHIS needs to reform its provider payment and claims submission and processing systems to ensure simpler and faster processes. Computerization and investment to improve the capacity to administer for both purchasers and providers will be key in any reform.
claims management; claims process; claims rejection; health insurance
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), operated majorly in Nigeria by health maintenance organisations (HMOs), took off formally in June 2005. In view of the inherent risks in the operation of any social health insurance, it is necessary to efficiently manage these risks for sustainability of the scheme. Consequently the risk-management strategies deployed by HMOs need regular assessment. This study assessed the risk management in the Nigeria social health insurance scheme among HMOs.
Materials and Methods:
Cross-sectional survey of 33 HMOs participating in the NHIS.
Utilisation of standard risk-management strategies by the HMOs was 11 (52.6%). The other risk-management strategies not utilised in the NHIS 10 (47.4%) were risk equalisation and reinsurance. As high as 11 (52.4%) of participating HMOs had a weak enrollee base (less than 30,000 and poor monthly premium and these impacted negatively on the HMOs such that a large percentage 12 (54.1%) were unable to meet up with their financial obligations. Most of the HMOs 15 (71.4%) participated in the Millennium development goal (MDG) maternal and child health insurance programme.
Weak enrollee base and poor monthly premium predisposed the HMOs to financial risk which impacted negatively on the overall performance in service delivery in the NHIS, further worsened by the non-utilisation of risk equalisation and reinsurance as risk-management strategies in the NHIS. There is need to make the scheme compulsory and introduce risk equalisation and reinsurance.
Health maintenance organisations; National Health Insurance Scheme; risk equalisation; risk management
To test the feasibility of using the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to identify children with chronic illness through a noncategorical approach, as exemplified by the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) screener. The ability to use the NHIS to identify CSHCN will permit analyses of the effects of welfare reform and public insurance eligibility expansions during the late 1990s on CSHCN.
The NHIS from 1997, 1999, and 2000. The NHIS is an ongoing household survey representative of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States.
Survey items were selected from the NHIS and thresholds designated to replicate the content and logic of the CSHCN screener. The screener asks explicit questions concerning an elevated need for, or use of health care services, and about limitations in activity, both caused by a chronic health condition. The algorithm created was applied to the pooled 1999–2000 NHIS to generate national prevalence estimates. Multivariate logistic regression was estimated to determine the effect of having particular demographic characteristics on the likelihood of being identified as CSHCN. Log odds ratios were compared to those from earlier NHIS-based estimates and from a pretest of the CSHCN screener.
An estimated 12 percent of noninstitutionalized children aged 0 through 17 have a chronic condition that results in elevated service use or limitations in normal activity. This estimate is sensitive to inclusion of children with a broader array of less serious or shorter-term conditions. The estimated effects of child characteristics on the likelihood of being identified as having special health needs are similar but not identical to other algorithms that have been used to identify CSHCN.
It is feasible to use existing questions in the NHIS to identify a population of CSHCN that is substantially similar to children identified through other algorithms or through use of a screening instrument imbedded in a household survey. The availability of this algorithm will permit use of the NHIS for important analyses of the effects of welfare reform and public insurance expansions on children with special health care needs.
Children; chronic illness; measurement; CSHCN screener
Oral anticancer drugs (OADs) allow treating a growing range of cancers. Despite their convenience, their acceptance by healthcare professionals and patients may be affected by medical, economical and organizational factors. The way the healthcare payment system (HPS) reimburses OADs or finances hospital activities may impact patients’ access to such drugs. We discuss how the HPS in France and USA may generate disincentives to the use of OADs in certain circumstances.
French public and private hospitals are financed by National Health Insurance (NHI) according to the nature and volume of medical services provided annually. Patients receiving intravenous anticancer drugs (IADs) in a hospital setting generate services, while those receiving OADs shift a part of service provision from the hospital to the community. In 2013, two million outpatient IADs sessions were performed, representing a cost of €815 million to the NHI, but positive contribution margin of €86 million to hospitals. Substitution of IADs by OADs mechanically induces a shortfall in hospital income related to hospitalizations. Such economic constraints may partially contribute to making physicians reluctant to prescribe OADs. In the US healthcare system, coverage for OADs is less favorable than coverage for injectable anticancer drugs. In 2006, a Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act was adopted by several states in order to provide patients with better coverage for OADs. Nonetheless, the complexity of reimbursement systems and multiple reimbursement channels from private insurance represent real economic barriers which may prevent patients with low income being treated with OADs. From an organizational perspective, in both countries the use of OADs generates additional activities related to physician consultations, therapeutic education and healthcare coordination between hospitals and community settings, which are not considered in the funding of hospitals activities so far.
Funding of healthcare services is a critical factor influencing in part the choice of cancer treatments and this is expected to become increasingly important as economic constraints grow. Drug reimbursement systems and hospital financing changes, coupled with other accompanying measures, should contribute to improve equal and safe patient access to appropriate anticancer drugs and improve the management and care pathway of cancer patients.
Oral; Chemotherapy; Targeted therapy; Healthcare payment system; Reimbursement; Hospital funding; Medicare Part D; Cancer
Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced in 2005 as a demand side intervention to remove financial barriers to accessing health services. After almost a decade of implementation, this study aims to investigate the association of NHIS membership with antenatal visits (ANC), postnatal visits (PNC) and under-five mortality, using data from the most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).
The survey was nationally representative and used a two-stage sample design to produce separate estimates for key indicators for each of the ten regions in Ghana. A generalised linear model (GLM) with binomial-family logit-link was used to estimate the effect of NHIS membership on each of the MNCH service utilisation indicators, adjusting for relevant confounding factors. Using birth history data, the Cox proportional hazard regression model was used to estimate the effect of NHIS membership on the incidence of under-five deaths, adjusted for wealth quintiles and other potential confounders.
The results support the role of health insurance membership in improving access to maternal and child health services, including antenatal care (ANC4+ adjusted OR = 1.94; 95 % CI = [1.28, 2.95]; P < 0.01), and content of antenatal care (adjusted OR = 2.05; 95 % CI = (1.46, 2.90); P < 0.0001). However, the study failed to show evidence of association of NHIS membership and under-five mortality (adjusted hazard rate = 0.86; 95 % CI = [0.64, 1.14]; P = 0.30).
National health insurance membership is associated with increased access to and utilisation of health care but not with under-five mortality.
Health insurance; Maternal; Newborn; and Child health
The introduction of the Ghana national health insurance scheme (NHIS) has led to progressive and significant increase in utilization of health services. However, the financial burden of caring for children with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) under the dispensation of the NHIS, especially during hospitalization, is less researched. This paper therefore sought to assess the financial burden parents/caregivers face in caring for children hospitalized with NCDs in Ghana, in the era of the Ghana NHIS.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 225 parents or caregivers of children with NCDS hospitalized in three hospitals. Convenience sampling was used to select those whose children were discharged from hospital after hospitalization. Descriptive statistics such as frequencies and chi-square and logistic regression were used in data analysis. The main outcome variable was financial burden of care, proxied by cost of hospitalization. The independent variable included socio-economic and other indicators such as age, sex, income levels and financial difficulties faced by parents/caregivers.
The study found that over 30 % of parents/caregivers spend more than Gh¢50 (25$) as cost of treatment of children hospitalized with NCDs; and over 40 % of parents/caregivers also face financial difficulties in providing health care to their wards. It was also found that even though many children hospitalized with NCDs have been covered by the NHIS, and that the NHIS indeed, provides significant financial relief to parents in the care of children with NCDs, children who are insured still pay out-of-pocket for health care, in spite of their insurance status. It was also found that there is less support from relatives and friends in the care of children hospitalized with NCDs, thus exacerbating parents/caregivers financial burden of caring for the children.
Even though health insurance has proven to be of significant relief to the financial burden of caring for children with NCDs, parents/caregivers still face significant financial burden in the care of their wards. Stakeholders in health care delivery should therefore ensure that all children with NCDs including those excluded from the NHIS should be covered by NHIS. A special effort focusing on identifying children with NCDs within the lower income groups, especially from rural areas, in order to exempt them from any form of payment for their health care is recommended.
Financial burden of care; National health insurance scheme; Cost of hospitalization non-communicable diseases; Children; Ghana
For many years, a sharp distinction was made between NHS and NHI on the basis of payment and program focus. First, NHS was defined as a program essentially based on Congressional appropriations (general revenues); while NHI would be based on premiums largely derived from the insured. Second, NHS guaranteed service while NHI guaranteed only payment for services rendered.
The distinctions were later extended from these definitions to include differences in response to resource needs, changing task descriptions and personnel assignments, more equitable redistribution of manpower, centralized administration and consumer participation.
In general, if the goal were equity, NHS seemed more responsive than NHI.
However, in recent years, the approach to NHI has been modified in response to criticism as well as increasing recognition of changed needs, and proposals for NHI like the Kennedy-Corman bill have become more like proposals for a NHS. In short, the difference today is largely one of immediate as against eventual transformation of the medical care system into a social instrument aiming to achieve equity. The major disagreement is whether the present medical care system lends itself to modification so as to achieve that end.
Despite improvements in a number of health outcome indicators partly due to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Ghana is unlikely to attain all its health-related millennium development goals before the end of 2015. Inefficient use of available limited resources has been cited as a contributory factor for this predicament. This study sought to explore efficiency levels of NHIS-accredited private and public health facilities; ascertain factors that account for differences in efficiency and determine the association between quality care and efficiency levels.
The study is a cross-sectional survey of NHIS-accredited primary health facilities (n = 64) in two regions in southern Ghana. Data Envelopment Analysis was used to estimate technical efficiency of sampled health facilities while Tobit regression was employed to predict factors associated with efficiency levels. Spearman correlation test was performed to determine the association between quality care and efficiency.
Overall, 20 out of the 64 health facilities (31 %) were optimally efficient relative to their peers. Out of the 20 efficient facilities, 10 (50 %) were Public/government owned facilities; 8 (40 %) were Private-for-profit facilities and 2 (10 %) were Private-not-for-profit/Mission facilities. Mission (Coef. = 52.1; p = 0.000) and Public (Coef. = 42.9; p = 0.002) facilities located in the Western region (predominantly rural) had higher odds of attaining the 100 % technical efficiency benchmark than those located in the Greater Accra region (largely urban). No significant association was found between technical efficiency scores of health facilities and many technical quality care proxies, except in overall quality score per the NHIS accreditation data (Coef. = −0.3158; p < 0.05) and SafeCare Essentials quality score on environmental safety for staff and patients (Coef. = −0.2764; p < 0.05) where the association was negative.
The findings suggest some level of wastage of health resources in many healthcare facilities, especially those located in urban areas. The Ministry of Health and relevant stakeholders should undertake more effective need analysis to inform resource allocation, distribution and capacity building to promote efficient utilization of limited resources without compromising quality care standards.
Efficiency; Quality care; Primary health facilities; Health insurance; Sustainability; Ghana
The three East African countries of Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya are characterized by high poverty levels, population growth rates, prevalence of HIV/AIDS, under-funding of the health sector, poor access to quality health care, and small health insurance coverage. Tanzania and Kenya have user-fees whereas Uganda abolished user-fees in public-owned health units.
To provide comparative description of community health insurance (CHI) schemes in three East African countries of Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya and thereafter provide a basis for future policy research for development of CHI schemes.
An analytical grid of 10 distinctive items pertaining to the nature of CHI schemes was developed so as to have a uniform lens of comparing country situations of CHI.
Results and conclusions
The majority of the schemes have been in existence for a relatively short time of less than 10 years and their number remains small. There is need for further research to identify what is the mix and weight of factors that cause people to refrain from joining schemes. Specific issues that could also be addressed in subsequent studies are whether the current schemes provide financial protection, increase access to quality of care and impact on the equity of health services financing and delivery. On the basis of this knowledge, rational policy decisions can be taken. The governments thereafter could consider an option of playing more roles in advocacy, paying for the poorest, and developing an enabling policy and legal framework.
community health insurance; low enrolment; policy and Africa