A total of 83 million vulnerable Nigerians are to benefit from compulsory health insurance in the recently assented National Health Insurance Authority Act,NHIA Act,by President Muhammadu Buhari,the Director General, NHIA, Mohammed Nasir Sambo,has said.
This was as he reiterated that the new health insurance law which provides for the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Fund,VGF,does not in anyway, impose a telecoms tax as a source of funding.
Sambo,who said the renewed prospects for the delivery of effective health insurance in Nigeria,”fundamentally resets the ecosystem” as it “changes the name of the agency from National Health Insurance Scheme to National Health Insurance Authority”, explained that under NHIA Act,the health insurance becomes mandatory.
The NHIA Director General spoke Tuesday,at a one-day news conference/workshop for health reporters on the NHIA Act, in Abuja.
Noting that the journey to achieving the Universal Health Coverage,UHC, was still on course,the NHIA DG said his organisation was not only prepared to implement the Act but also get people internalized in the new Act.
Prof. Sambo explained that given the development,efforts to tackle high incidence of poverty caused by out-of-pocket expenses for health care, through health insurance for all categories of Nigerians by 2030, was now more realisable.
“The moment President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Act, the NHIA Act empowers the Authority to see to it that all Nigerians and legal residents have health insurance. This is a complete departure from the previous law that made health insurance optional.
“The NHIA Act brings renewed prospects for the delivery of effective health insurance in Nigeria, fundamentally resets the ecosystem.
“The Act establishes and empowers the NHIA to ensure provision of health insurance for all Nigerians through a mandatory mechanism, in collaboration with state health insurance agencies,”he said.
Speaking further,he said:”Specifically, Sections 25 and 26 of the Act establish the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF), indicating the various sources from which funding would be drawn.
“Furthermore, the legislation strengthens the NHIA to discharge a wide range of regulatory and promotion functions to ultimately ensure that every Nigerian receives access to quality and affordable health care.”
On inclusion of cancer treatment in NHIA programme,Prof. Sambo explained that his organisation was
collaborating with Roche Products Nigeria Limited on Cancer Care Reimbursement Initiative.
“Roche will pay 50% of the amount, NHIA will pay 30% of the money and the patient pay 20% of the amount,”he explained.
Sambo,while explaining that health was compulsory for people in the informal sectors, said the NHIA Act has made health compulsory for everyone.
Hear him: ” The public sector is already in, organized private sectors will be compelled and persuaded to join.
“There are numerous benefits in health insurance which is to protect them. Government will also come up with polies that 8f you have to enroll your children in schools, you have to present an evidence 9f health insurance. Even when you don’t go to school, you will go to the hospital, you must produce the your health insurance evidence. Almost 70% of out of pocket expenditure. We want to ensure that out of pocket expenditure is reduced to below 50%.”