The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has begun an investigation into reports revealing how the radiotherapy units of Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals charge breast cancer patients unapproved fees before they access a medication which is free under the NHIS.
An agreement signed between the government and the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, Roche in 2018 provided breast cancer patients with a treatment drug called Herceptin at no cost.
But the radiotherapy units of the two hospitals are billing the patients for facility user, development fund and chemotherapy fees before they can receive the essential drug meanwhile, this has not been sanctioned by NHIA.
Joy News’ investigations found that that the hospitals are making up to ¢300 per vial of Herceptin administered to the patients.
But, the National Director of the Oncology Centre at Korle Bu, Dr Joel Yarney, admitted that they charge the fees because the cost of service at the Radiotherapy Unit is not borne by the government.
Speaking on Joy News desk with Ernest Manu, he said chemotherapy isn’t for free.
“There are costs relating to face masks, overall and other clinical consumables that need to be catered for. Who bears the cost? Herceptin comes with additional drugs we administer, that must be paid for even though the medication is for free,” he quizzed.
He admitted that the unit charges facility user ranging between ¢150 to ¢250 that patients are made to pay.
He questioned the basis on which the NHIA is saying facility user fees and chemo charges were illegal.
CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority, Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby told Joy News it’s disappointing for the two units to be ripping off patients.
“All the drugs on NHIS, we give a marker from the manufacturer to the retailer to cover for the little expenses. That’s why its unacceptable to take extra money. In the case of Herceptin, there are no middlemen.
“Every bit of the marker price goes to the two hospitals. That’s why it’s disappointing to learn they are charging those fees,” he explained.
According to him, her team has begun gathering evidence into the unapproved charges.