No Demand For Taxing Churches – NHIA Boss

No Demand For Taxing Churches – NHIA Boss

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Samuel Yaw Annor, has said there is no demand for the taxing of churches to support the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Some analysts have even suggested cynically that the government should consider taxing churches as a way of helping to replenish the depleting NHIS kitty.

However, Dr Annor, who is in favour of hiking the NHIS rate, said on Citi FM in Accra yesterday that the suggestion is not possible in the current circumstance.

“We spoke to so many people across the country. Probably it was at only one venue that somebody suggested that we tax churches to fund national health insurance,” he revealed.

Dr Annor pointed out that the suggestion to tax churches because of the NHIS “is not a very popular option or a very common suggestion.”

He admitted that the service is in dire straits, adding that “between 2009 and now, we have just been piling debts.”

The NHIA CEO stated that the service has reached a point where it needs “to take bold steps.”

“Let us try and pay the appropriate fee for our healthcare and the appropriate fee according to suggestions by the World Health Organisation is about $86 or about GH¢ 380 or GH¢ 400 per year for each member of the scheme and we should strive towards that,” he said.

“…To rectify the problems we have had in the past and move in a direction we don’t have to come back again and say we are having problems,” Dr Annor stated further.

The NHIA had submitted a proposal to levy tobacco and alcohol to fund the NHIS, as one of its “bold steps”.

Dr Annor previously explained that the reason for the suggestion of taxing 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, which will affect the programme.

According to the NHIA, its source of finance for the insurance scheme; 2.5 percent of Value Added Tax and 2.5 percent contributions from SSNIT, which amounts to $25 for each person per year, is inadequate.

Bleak Indications

Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu is also aware that the NHIS is in danger of a collapse but assured that the Health and Finance Ministries were making frantic efforts to get new sources of investment.

“We need some new some source of investment and that is what we are engaging in… I’m working. Not only me but in collaboration with the Finance Ministry to look at how we can get some new investments to put into health insurance.”

Other than that, Mr Agyemang Manu said the “sustainability of it [NHIS] and what we can do to make it very efficient would become a challenge.”


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