Assessing the Impact of National Health Insurance Scheme on the Ghanaian Economy
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
“The first wealth is health”
In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties” It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. In health and disease are now recognized as barriers to economic growth in developing countries. Health before wealth is more than just an old adage and program that aim to protect and improve the health of people can help in the battle against poverty. Good health boosts labour productivity, educational attainment and income and so reduces poverty. A country’s economic development is closely interrelated with the health status of its population and equitable health care system is therefore important instrument in breaking the vicious circle of poverty and ill health. Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to win independence from the British and her future was ever to so bright under the leadership of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana set up a National Health service which was fully financed from state revenue. The advantage of this system was that, it paid higher progressive (high income individuals paid higher taxes than low income people.) It also provided service for everybody without any cost, so it protected the poor people from financial shocks. It did not involve user charges at point of service. The disadvantages however, were very clear in that, the medical services provided were indeed low quality and it was biased towards the urban populace and neglected the rural poor. In 1971, the government introduced user fees to patients for hospital procedures. Initially, the fees were small but, the principle was established. By the early 1980’s Ghana was experiencing balance of payment crisis which was soon generalized into an economic crisis which affected all sectors of the economy (Nana Yaw Osei) Over the...