The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has made a proposal to government to levy tobacco and alcohol to fund the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
According to the Authority, the proposal is one of the options of finding additional sources of funding to sustain the NHIS policy, since the 2.5 per cent NHIS levy collected under the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the 2.5 percentage Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions appears to be adequate.
Dr Samuel Annor, Chief Executive Officer of the NHIA made this known when he appeared before Public Account Committee (PAC) to respond to some violations contained in the 2015 Auditor General’s Report in relation to the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The PAC is currently holding public sittings on the Report of the Auditor General for the Public Accounts of Ghana for the year ended 31st December, 2015.
Dr Annor also explained that the reason for the suggestion to tax alcohol and tobacco is borne out of the fact that the nation is likely to spend more in treating people with alcohol and tobacco related illness thus affecting the programme.
He said providing additional source of funding to sustain the programme would go a long way to end the cycle of indebtedness of the NHIS to its service providers.
Dr Annor also acknowledged that confidence in the NHIS was waning as a result of gradual decline in the renewal of the cards over the last two years, saying that, it is a great source of concern.
He explained that the number of subscribers to the scheme reduced from 11.3million in 2015 to 11 million in 2016.
He said the refusal by service providers to give quality care to clients due to high levels of indebtedness is to be blamed for the decline.
Dr Annor however noted that, over the last three months, there has been some improvement in the number of subscribers to the scheme and expressed the hope that the increase would continue for some time to come.