NHIA tasks state governments on health insurance scheme

Health Insurance

The National Healthcare Insurance Authority (NHIA) has urged all 36 state governors in the country to establish National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) agency in their various states to provide insurance cover to the citizens.

This is to ensure the Federal Government initiative onboards 83 million poor Nigerians in the National Health Insurance Scheme newly signed into law.

Director General, NHIA, Prof. Nasir Mohammed Sambo, speaking after being honoured at the National Awards by Health Care Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) held in Lagos, said that at least 83 million poor Nigerians are set to be covered in the National Health Insurance Scheme in a bid to achieve universal coverage.

According to him, NHIA will collaborate with state government-run health insurance schemes to accredit primary and secondary health facilities and enrol Nigerians into the scheme in order to ensure the delivery of quality health care across the country.

However, the new law also enables the NHIA and state governments to develop information management systems and digital records for better data collection, monitoring, and quality assurance.

Sambo disclosed that private health insurance is a practice where HMOs buy health care for interested persons under pre-determined arrangements.

Sambo stated that NHIS was the only legally recognised body that has the authority to come up with service tariffs for health insurance in the country, noting that the primary objectives of social health insurance were to limit the rising cost of health care services and protect people from financial hardships of huge medical bills.

Sambo, however, expressed reservations that the system had tolerated HMOs to run “Private Health Insurance” which brought distortion to social health insurance implementation, expressing the optimism that the expected passage of the NHIS bill making health insurance mandatory will permanently resolve all such distortions.

“Social health insurance is the only vehicle by which every Nigerian can access quality and affordable health care. Therefore, any element that will threaten the smooth operations of the social health insurance scheme in Nigeria must be eliminated”, Sambo said.

The General Manager, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Olufemi Akingbade, who also presented a paper on the ‘Birth of NHIA, Paradigm-shift, Importance, Relevance, Impact, and Contributions to achieving UHC in Nigeria,’ said NHIS had a core mandate to ensure every Nigerian has access to qualitative and affordable healthcare services.

Akingbade said that in the course of implementation, the NHIS Act was found to be undermined by constitutional provisions on health (recurrent/exclusive legislative lists) coupled with the voluntary disposition to health insurance.