There is evidence to show that a section of the media told a lie when they reported variously that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had entered into a contract for the supply of hospital prescription forms and subsequently paid full contract amount of GH¢10 Million when only a part of the contract had been executed.
Daybreak-an Accra tabloid in its Tuesday September 11, 2012 edition, reported with a screaming banner “NHIS BLOWS GH¢ 10 MILLION ON PRESCRIPTION FORMS ALONE”.
In that story the tabloid alleged that the NHIS entered into a deal with Volta Impex Limited for the supply of (two million) 2,000,000 copies of hospital prescription forms. And claimed further that though Volta Impex Limited had only supplied 100,000 copies, the NHIA, managers of the NHIS went ahead and made full payment of GH¢10 Million which is the total contract sum. The publication was subsequently carried by a number of news portals.
However documents which Trueorfalsegh has stumbled upon indicate that the NHIS did not contract Volta Impex Limited for the supply of the forms. What we found instead was that it was the Ministry of Health (MOH) which actually completed the requisite procurement process, selected and awarded a contract for the printing of 2 million booklets, each containing 50 prescription forms in triplicate, (3 sheets per form in the booklet)
THE NHIA introduced new NHIS prescription forms against a backdrop of exponential increases in claims expenditure over the years.Records sighted revealed that total disbursements (subsidies and reinsurance) for claims payment increased from GH¢7.60 million in 2005 to GH¢35.48 million in 2006 showing an increase of 367%.
The payments increased from GH¢79.26 million in 2007 to GH¢198.11 million in 2008 and GH¢308.15 Million in 2009. Out of this figure, medicines alone accounted for 53.4%. Following routine monitoring and evaluation activities and clinical audits by NHIA, anomalies, systemic abuses and fraud were discovered. These included polypharmacy (patients given more medications than are actually needed) and irrational prescription of medicines and wrong application of tariffs by some service providers. Some providers filed for claims on behalf of clients who never used their facility.
To address some of these challenges and contain rising cost and inefficiencies, the NHIA introduced a new, uniform, serialized, prescription form with unique prescriber, facility and client identification to be used in all public healthcare facilities, Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) healthcare facilities, and private healthcare provider sites across the country.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S INVOLVEMENT
The Ministry of Health took over from the NHIA, adopted and adapted the new Prescription form for it to be used in all accredited healthcare facilities. The Ministry then completed the requisite procurement process and awarded a contract to Volta Impex Limited for the printing of 2 million booklets, each containing 50 prescription forms in triplicate.
THE ROLE OF THE NHIA
It was agreed between MOH and NHIA that the latter would initially finance the printing order. The NHIA demanded a performance guarantee from the printer, and with approval by the Board, agreed to pay 50% of the printing cost, with safeguards, pending progress in line with the contract.
An initial order for 100,000 booklets (out of the 2 million booklets) was duly printed and delivered to the MOH for a three-month pilot of the prescription forms to assess its feasibility, benefits and challenges. Following the pilot, the MOH directed modifications to the final design of the Prescription Form to further improve upon its security features.
Trueorfalsegh is reliably informed that with the modifications almost complete, printing of the remaining 1.9 million booklets is scheduled to proceed.
More coming soon