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Open Access Research

Equity of the premium of the Ghanaian national health insurance scheme and the implications for achieving universal coverage

Eugenia Amporfu

Author Affiliations

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

International Journal for Equity in Health 2013, 12:4  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-4

Published: 7 January 2013

Abstract

The Ghanaian National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was introduced to provide access to adequate health care regardless of ability to pay. By law the NHIS is mandatory but because the informal sector has to make premium payment before they are enrolled, the authorities are unable to enforce mandatory nature of the scheme. The ultimate goal of the Scheme then is to provide all residents with access to adequate health care at affordable cost. In other words, the Scheme intends to achieve universal coverage. An important factor for the achievement of universal coverage is that revenue collection be equitable. The purpose of this study is to examine the vertical and horizontal equity of the premium collection of the Scheme. The Kakwani index method as well as graphical analysis was used to study the vertical equity. Horizontal inequity was measured through the effect of the premium on redistribution of ability to pay of members. The extent to which the premium could cause catastrophic expenditure was also examined. The results showed that revenue collection was both vertically and horizontally inequitable. The horizontal inequity had a greater effect on redistribution of ability to pay than vertical inequity. The computation of catastrophic expenditure showed that a small minority of the poor were likely to incur catastrophic expenditure from paying the premium a situation that could impede the achievement of universal coverage. The study provides recommendations to improve the inequitable system of premium payment to help achieve universal coverage.