The Tamale West hospital, Tamale Central hospital, One Heart Medical Center, and Global Medical Laboratory in the Tamale metropolis have all refunded various sums of money unlawfully taken from some unsuspecting patients bearing the National Health Insurance cards to access healthcare at these facilities.
The refund exercise started last week where One Heart Medical Center, a private hospital in Tamale with NHIS credentials was the first to settle families of the victims they illegally billed for services that are covered under the national insurance policy.
This was followed by the Tamale West and the Tamale Central hospitals also known as the regional hospital both government healthcare service providers in the northern regional capital.
The NHIS uncovered the illegal charges put on their clients during a monitoring and evaluation exercise conducted earlier this year. Some of the hospitals caught in the act were the above mentioned facilities and two additional institutions namely; SDA hospital and KABSAD Medical Center also situated in Tamale.
One of the recipients, Haruna Yussif, narrated his ordeal to THE CUSTODIAN when he brought his wife during labor on August 1, 2023, to deliver at the Tamale Central hospital.
He recounted the woman was taken through caesarean section (CS) and there were complications subsequently which they rushed her back to the same hospital for medical attention.
He added, “The doctors said it was infections and that they were to conduct another operation on her and they [doctors] called me, Dr Sayibu called me and informed me that the womb of my wife had been damaged and she could no longer give birth”.
He lamented the family during the period spent over GHS20,000 at the hospital despite that his wife bears the NHIS card. He stated the family could not trace all their receipts but due to the intervention of NHIS management, about GHS1,500 have been refunded to them for services and drugs they shouldn’t have paid for.
Some of the victims across all the hospitals received various amounts ranging from five hundred, four hundred cedis, three hundred cedis, and below. Others also received as low as twenty (20) cedis depending on the service they were charged that ordinarily was supposed to be free service.
Meanwhile, at the Tamale Central hospital, the exercise initially witnessed some level of confrontation between the Director of Pharmacy, Dr Emmanuel and officials of the NHIS when he insisted the hospital will only refund for service charges but drugs and other consumables will be paid only when the victims provide proof of receipts.
It was revealed however at the CBG bank post at the hospital that three receipts are produced for all payments with one receipt for the client, the bank and the hospital records.
The Tamale Metro Manager of the NHIS, Mr. Ahmed Abdul Ganiyu in an interview said the hospital has agreed to pay the outstanding monies next Monday, indicating the excuse given now is the absence of the hospital accountant.
“…They were giving the excuse that only the bank and the clients have copies of the receipts but later upon our interrogations, we realized that the accounts also have such receipts but the excuse now is that the accountant has traveled and his office cannot be opened. We have given them a benefit of doubt, let us give them the two days period to put everything in order so that Monday we will come back and continue the exercise” he stated.
Mr. Abdul Ganiyu therefore admonished all affected clients to provide their receipts to redeem the monies from the facilities, saying one of the victims spent as much as 20,000 but is unable to provide all his receipts for refund.
He added the NHIS is handicapped in such situations but emphasized one is guaranteed of full refund when they are able to provide all receipts.
The recipient families have couldn’t hide their excitement and commended the NHIS and the government for the intervention. Some of them who spoke to the media believe this will restore the image of the policy and notion that the policy is not serving its intended purpose will be corrected moving forward.
Meanwhile, the accountant at One Heart Medical Center, Madam Asana Napari attributed the situation to the failure of the hospital’s billing system. She however gave an assurance that the management was working assiduously to rectify the problem as soon as practicable.