NHIS policy for foreigners launched

The policy pertains specifically to non-residents visiting the country for a period of less than six months in any period of 12 months

The Ministry of Health has launched a national health insurance policy to cover foreigners who visit the country for a short period of time.

The ministry developed the policy dubbed “National Non-resident Visitors Health Insurance” in collaboration with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and other partners who will jointly oversee its implementation.

The policy pertains specifically to non-residents visiting the country for a period of less than six months in any period of 12 months.

Launching the policy in Accra last Thursday, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said the introduction of the policy was in tandem with the operationalisation of the National Health Insurance Act, 2012 (Act 852).

He said the Act mandated the provision of quality and accessible health care for both residents and non-residents in the country and should be covered under a form of national health insurance to enhance their access to equitable health services for a better quality of life.

Agyeman-Manu said the implementation of the policy would culminate in the establishment of a National Non-Resident Visitors Health Insurance Scheme (NNRVHIS).

“The scheme will be the main vehicle for the delivery of robust healthcare services to non-residents who will be travelling to Ghana.

“Taking into consideration the peculiar characteristics and nature of the NNRVHIS, a special purpose arrangement may be required to minimise the potential for risks,” he said.

“In line with this, a National Non-Resident Visitors Health Insurance Technology Platform (NNRVHITP) will be established to enable non-resident visitors to remotely log into a digital platform and apply accordingly in the comfort of their respective countries without challenges, thereby improving the user experience.”

Universal Health Coverage

“I am particularly excited to be outdooring this as it forms part of the mechanisms we are putting in place to facilitate the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.

“The development of the National Non-Resident Visitors Health Insurance Policy is timely as my ministry is currently implementing a Universal Health Coverage Road map (2020-2030), which defines UHC for Ghana as “all people in Ghana have timely access to high-quality health services, irrespective of their ability to pay at the point of use.”

“The emphasis is on “all people in Ghana” which includes non-resident visitors. In this light, our bid to achieve UHC for the people of Ghana will not be complete if the health needs of non-resident visitors are not addressed,” he said.

Agyeman-Manu said despite significant strides made with the NHIS, some gaps still existed in the provision of comprehensive health insurance, particularly for non-resident visitors.

“As a result, non-resident visitors resort to the use of various travel insurance packages that cover specific areas, including medical costs, losses and delays suffered while travelling to the country.”

He said the goal of this policy is: “To promote, provide and maintain good health care for all non-resident visitors in Ghana through health insurance.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Professor Francis Kasolo, commended the country for its efforts at ensuring that no one was left behind in the delivery of health care, regardless of any individual’s residence status.

He said health care was a fundamental human right and therefore all stakeholders needed to collaborate to overcome the barriers the non-resident population faced in accessing care.

“The launch of this policy demonstrates the government’s commitment to ensure that every individual in the country has access to affordable and comprehensive health services,” he said.

The board chairman of the National Health Authority, Ernest Kwarko, said while strides had been made in expanding coverage for residents, there remained a gap with regard to the non-resident population and he was optimistic that the policy would help bridge that gap.

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