Ghana – In a significant move to enhance healthcare coverage, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is undertaking steps to incorporate the cost of dialysis for kidney patients into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). This initiative is set to benefit a large number of kidney patients across the country who have been facing challenges with the accessibility and affordability of dialysis treatment.
According to Ghana News Agency, the Central Regional Director of NHIA, the Authority is currently collecting data from teaching hospitals where dialysis is performed for a feasibility assessment. This development was disclosed during an interview with the Ghana News Agency, on the sidelines of a blood donation exercise organized as part of the NHIA’s 20th Anniversary celebrations. The exercise aimed to address the shortage of blood in various banks and prevent deaths due to this deficiency.
Mr. Appiah mentioned that his office had already submitted data from the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH) to the NHIA Head Office. He expressed optimism about the outcome of the data collection process, anticipating that it would lead to the inclusion of dialysis in the NHIS coverage package. This response comes amid public outcry over the high cost and limited accessibility of dialysis in Ghana.
The public recently resisted an attempt by the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to increase the cost of dialysis, perceiving it as detrimental to kidney patients’ survival. The closure of KBTH’s renal unit due to indebtedness led to the reported deaths of 19 patients, highlighting the urgent need for this initiative.
The NHIA’s assessment will determine whether to absorb the full cost of dialysis treatment or a portion of it. Mr. Appiah noted that NHIS currently covers about 95 percent of diseases in Ghana, along with over 540 medicines. As the NHIA continues to expand its coverage, there is a growing need to increase its resource base.
When asked about the potential impact of adding kidney treatment to the Scheme on premiums, Mr. Appiah acknowledged the likelihood of an increase. However, he emphasized that the premium paid by the informal sector, which constitutes only 4.5 percent of the NHIA’s revenue, would not be sufficient even with an increase. He advocated for enhanced government funding to the Authority to ensure sustainable health insurance and comprehensive coverage for all health conditions.