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Open Access Research article

Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme: a national level investigation of members’ perceptions of service provision

Jenna Dixon1, Eric Y Tenkorang2* and Isaac Luginaah1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Geography, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON N6A 5C2, Canada

2 Department of Sociology, Memorial University, St. John’s, NF A1C 5S7, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC International Health and Human Rights 2013, 13:35  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-35

Published: 23 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), established into law in 2003 and implemented in 2005 as a ‘pro-poor’ method of health financing, has made great progress in enrolling members of the general population. While many studies have focused on predictors of enrolment this study offers a novel analysis of NHIS members’ perceptions of service provision at the national level.

Methods

Using data from the 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey we analyzed the perceptions of service provision as indicated by members enrolled in the NHIS at the time of the survey (n = 3468; m = 1422; f = 2046). Ordinal Logistic Regression was applied to examine the relationship between perceptions of service provision and theoretically relevant socioeconomic and demographic variables.

Results

Results demonstrate that wealth, gender and ethnicity all play a role in influencing members’ perceptions of NHIS service provision, distinctive from its influence on enrolment. Notably, although wealth predicted enrolment in other studies, our study found that compared to the poorest men and uneducated women, wealthy men and educated women were less likely to perceive their service provision as better/same (more likely to report it was worse). Wealth was not an important factor for women, suggesting that household gender dynamics supersede household wealth status in influencing perceptions. As well, when compared to Akan women, women from all other ethnic groups were about half as likely to perceive the service provision to be better/same.

Conclusions

Findings of this study suggest there is an important difference between originally enrolling in the NHIS because one believes it is potentially beneficial, and using the NHIS and perceiving it to be of benefit. We conclude that understanding the nature of this relationship is essential for Ghana’s NHIS to ensure its longevity and meet its pro-poor mandate. As national health insurance systems are a relatively new phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa little is known about their long term viability; understanding user perceptions of service provision is an important piece of that puzzle.

Keywords:
Health care; Ghana; Health insurance; National health insurance scheme; Perceptions; Service