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General News
Doctors to face probe 1/18/2007
A number of doctors in the Sekondi- Takoradi metropolis are to be probed for allegations of extortion under the National Health Insurance Scheme.

The action, to be undertaken by the Western Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service, follows accusations by managers of the scheme and NHIS card holders that the doctors illegally collected between 800,000 cedis and 2 million cedis per person before treating patients who were covered by the scheme.

The acting Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Linda Vanotoo said such a practice would pose a serious threat to the survival of the scheme in the region and gave the assurance that the allegation would not be taken lightly.

The victims are said to be mostly the rural poor who were duly registered under the NHIS but had little knowledge about the scheme.

Investigations have revealed that that those in the farming and fishing communities are no longer interested in the renewal of their insurance because it has rather brought them hardships as a result of the behaviour of some self seeking doctors at t he health facilities.

The Efia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi and the Essikado Hospital have been cited as being the most notorious for the practice.

Farmers in Abuesi, Shama, Komfueku and a host of other towns and villages in the Western Region expressed regret at having wasted their time and money registering under the NHIS.

Some of the victims involved in the alleged extortion included a 70 year old man and a physically challenged young woman covered by the scheme. They narrated their experiences with anger and regret.

Seventy year old Opayin Kojo Arthur said he reported at the Essikado Hospital for a hernia operation in November last year and after the necessary medical tests, a doctor demanded 1 million cedis before he would commence treatment.

Hernia operation is covered by the scheme. “I was taken through other processes and my health insurancfe card covered the expenses at that level. But when I was referred to the doctor and he asked me to pay 1 million cedis before he starts,” the sad looking old man said, almost in tears.

Opanyin Arthur said he managed to secure 400,000 cedis but the doctor refused to treat him until he could raise the whole amount.

According to Opayin Arthur, because of that experience he had decided not to renew his insurance.

At Abuesi, another card bearer, a 35 year old fisherman, Seth Konduah said he was shocked when after showing his health insurance card to the same doctor, he was asked to pay 800,000 cedis before he could commence treatment on him.

“Because I did not have the money on me, he asked me to go home and look for the money,” he said.

“It took me some days to raise the money and he did not even give me a receipt for it. I have just come to realize that I should not have paid because of the NHIS card. Now I want my money back”, he said.

Mr Konduah said after the operation, he had to sell some of his belongings to enable him to pay for the drugs prescribed for him.

Another card holder, Solomon Baah said in the first week of November last year, he was asked to pay 1 million cedis before the commencement of his hernia operation at the same hospital.

However, when contacted to verify the complaints by the victims, the Scheme Manager at Shama, F.K Blankson confirmed the claims.

He said he had received those complaints from clients and added that it was wrong for doctors to collect money from patients at health facilities.

Source: Daily Graphic

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