Hospital managers decry delays in reimbursing claims

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Some hospital managers operating in deprived communities in the country have expressed fears that their facilities are grinding to a halt as a result of the indebtedness of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to their facilities.

The situation is as a result of the fact that majority of their patients are NHIS card bearers who rely heavily on it to access health care.

Some of the managers of the facilities the Daily Graphic spoke to included those in charge of the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital in the Upper East Region, Agogo Presbyterian Hospital in the Ashanti Region, SDA Hospital in Obuasi, St Joseph Hospital in the Nkwanta South District in the Volta Region, Techiman Holy Family Hospital in Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region and the Jirapa Hospital in the Upper West Region.

Hospital essentials

They said currently, they were unable to buy hospital consumables and essentials which were critical for the daily operations of the facilities, saying that securing oxygen, which was an essential item, was becoming a challenge.

Speaking in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, the managers complained that they were unable to secure items such as gloves and other essentials and medicines for the running of their facilities because their suppliers were refusing to give them the items on credit.

They, therefore, appealed to the government to consider, as a matter of urgency, releasing funds for the reimbursement immediately and provide a clear reimbursement schedule of the NHIS claims to enable them to plan ahead.

The managers acknowledged the promises from the government, including those from the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his Vice, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Health Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyemang Manu, but they appealed to the government to move away from the promises to hard evidence of actual payment for the indebtedness by the NHIS.

They further appealed to the government to stop the one-month reimbursement policy because a month’s reimbursement could neither cover the utility bills nor pay for drugs and other essentials they credited from the suppliers.

SDA Hospital

The Medical Director of the SDA Hospital, Dr Kwadwo Sarfo, told the Daily Graphic that most hospital managers were being harassed by suppliers, while some of them were threatening to take their facilities to court to enable them to recover their monies.

“Currently, anytime my phone rings and it is not a familiar number I do not always pick because I am running away from the suppliers the facility owes,” he said.

He said the hospital had resorted to buying on credit from different suppliers, since the previous ones had declined to supply on credit until the facility fully settled the arrears, “a situation I understand perfectly because they are doing business.”

Dr Sarfo said as of the beginning of this month, the hospital had run out of basic essentials and medicines, stressing that sometimes, he had to use his own pocket money to buy gloves since he could not ask his nurses to work with their bare hands.

Agogo Presby Hospital

For his part, the General Manager of the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital, Mr Alex Kesse, said the facility served as a critical health centre for patients from the Eastern and Ashanti regions who were mostly farmers because of its location.

He said annually, the hospital attended to 120,000 patients at the OPD, 4,000 surgical cases and 13,000 admissions, saying, “the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital with its peculiar geographical position has majority of its clients being NHIS card bearers and as such the bulk of its internally generated fund (IGF) is dependent on NHIS reimbursement.”

Mr Kesse said as of the end of April 2017, the total indebtedness was about GH¢7 million, while the hospital indebtedness to its suppliers stood at GH¢4.8 million with the pharmaceutical companies constituting more than 60 per cent of the debt stock.

Bawku Presby Hospital

The General Manager of the Bawku Presby Hospital, Mr Fred Effah-Yeboah, said the situation was affecting the availability of logistics, stressing that the hospital was a major referral centre in the whole of the northern sector of the country.

He said the NHIS owed the hospital over GH¢3 million, adding that currently the hospital could not guarantee quality healthcare as patients were given prescriptions to go to the open market to buy their medications.

St Joseph Hospital at Nkwanta

At the St Joseph Hospital at Nkwanta in the Volta Region where over 95 per cent are NHIS card bearers, the indebtedness has demoralised staff and compromised quality healthcare.

The acting Hospital Administrator at the facility, Rev. Sister Georgina Quayson, lamented the undue delay in reimbursement which, she said, was grinding the facility to a halt.

Techiman Holy Family Hospital

The NHIS owes the Techiman Holy Family Hospital over GH¢3 million, rendering the hospital incapable of stocking the stores with any of the essentials, the Hospital Administrator, Mr Christopher Akanbobnaab, told the Daily Graphic.

He said even though the NHIS was one of the best social intervention policies the country had ever implemented, the poor reimbursement rate was making it impossible for sustainable quality healthcare delivery.

CHAG

In a contribution, the Executive Director of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Mr Peter K. Yeboah, said the frustrations of the managers of the various health facilities, which were all CHAG facilities, summed up the distress they were going through.

He said the position of the managers was a call, an invitation and a plea to the government to address the indebtedness that had deprived such facilities of life-saving medicines.

Mr Yeboah said the piecemeal reimbursement policy of the government was doing the facilities no good, but rather it gave the suppliers the impression that the government was reimbursing the facilities but their managers were refusing to settle their debts.




Source: graphic.com.gh

 

June 18, 2017

 

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