The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has signed a landmark health insurance policy for its members, an initiative made possible after years of existence.
The policy, which is in partnership with the Premier Health Insurance Company, Ghana’s biggest commercial health insurance company, will provide doctors across the country and their immediate family members an opportunity to enjoy affordable medical care anytime they visit the hospital, BusinessGhana reports.
This was announced at the just-ended Annual General Meeting of the GMA.
According to the outgoing GMA President, Dr. Frank Ankobea, the new policy will help solve multiple problems of access, equity, and affordability of health delivery services doctors across the country have had to grapple with over a long period of time.
Providing details of the policy, Dr. Ankobea said, members of the GMA, both in public and private practice across the country will be entitled to medical care and all health delivery services in any health facility of their choice without having to pay huge medical expenses at the point of access.
He explained that the Association through its members will pay reasonable annual premiums, which will facilitate the implementation of the historic health policy for all doctors.
The historic policy comes at a time when the GMA has raised multiple concerns about the poor working conditions, especially of doctors, across the country.
In an interview on the sidelines of the AGM, Dr. Frank Ankobea lamented what he says is the deplorable health conditions of doctors who give their all to save lives but have little to save themselves when they get sick.
He said it is public knowledge that low health worker motivation and discontent are the major causes of poor healthcare quality and outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana.
According to him, health workers, particularly doctors, who are the custodians of health care delivery in Ghana, are measured and assessed by what the public perceives to be ‘people-centered’ care, but very little attention is given to the care doctors receive when they or their family members are sick.
“It is for this reason that our team entered into this partnership with Premier Health Insurance, the GMA president said, adding, “this policy will in many significant ways address a major challenge for doctors who break their necks every day caring for patients, and yet when they are down with sickness, they sometimes struggle to raise the cost of medical expenses for themselves and their immediate family members.”
“We have lost some members in the past because when the sickness struck, they were unable to pay upfront the cost of health delivery services,” he pointed out.
According to Dr. Ankobea, this health insurance policy is a just-in-time legacy project he and his team of outgoing executives intend to bequeath to all doctors after they leave office.
He said the GMA has taken the significant bold step to ensure this insurance policy is a reality, adding, even though doctors are expected to pay the premiums to set the policy in motion, the government can honor its promises to secure the welfare and health needs of doctors.
“Indeed this is a bold step we have taken, but the government can at least meet us halfway with the premiums, in line with the promises government has made in the past,” he reiterated.
Explaining the processes under which Premier Health Insurance was selected to champion this health insurance policy, Dr. Ankobea said GMA invited bids from the major health insurance companies.
“After a thorough assessment of all the bids, we realized Premier Health insurance offered the most competitive bid, which was equitable and affordable,” he added.
He believed this policy is a major step forward towards improving the health and welfare of the over 5,000 members across the country.
Chief Executive Officer of Premier Health Insurance, Mr. Percy Asare-Ansah, was thoroughly excited about the new deal with the GMA.
“We launched our 10th Anniversary celebration this year, and to have signed this landmark policy with the GMA in our 10th year is a testimony of how far we have come as a company,” he stated.
He said the partnership with GMA is a testament to Premier’s track record in managing the health insurance needs of its clients.
Even though the company has similar arrangements for teachers, Mr. Ansah said the policy with the GMA is novel in many significant respects.
He said it was always a bother to him that doctors who are the major stakeholders in the health delivery system and give more for clients to get well are always given less when they become patients themselves.
“My team and I have always been thinking around a policy that will meet the health needs of doctors, and so we were not entirely surprised that our bid grabbed the attention of the GMA.”
“And given the fact that we already have a seamless package with teachers across the country, it was relatively easy drafting an impressive package for doctors as well,” Mr. Ansah added.
He promised that his team will manage the policy to the admiration of GMA and hopefully would attract other public sector workers as well.