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NHIS Woos Private Sector Employers, Workers On Healthcare

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The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has called on the organised private sector (OPS) to key into social health insurance to enhance productivity and economic development.

Dr. Femi Thomas, the Executive Secretary of the Scheme made the appeal while addressing employers of labour in the private sectors during a one day interactive and enlightenment session on active participation in Formal Sector Health Insurance programme (FSSHIP) at Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Ikeja, Lagos State.

Dr. Thomas, who was represented by Dr. Femi Akingbade, the General Manager, Information Communication Technology (ICT) of the scheme while presenting a paper on the overview of the role and responsibility of NHIS, said that only a healthy work force could realise the goals and aspirations of all organisations.

He said: “We should see how we can actually provide accessible and affordable healthcare, for us to think of wealth, we must look at the wellbeing of the people that are going to generate wealth.

“You are in the formal sector and you should actually be covered under the health insurance scheme. This is because as at today, this NHIS has covered about 97/98 percent of the federal workers,” he added.

Commenting more on the scheme, Thomas said: “As we speak, it is high time that these schemes were expanded. If you still look at the statistics in Nigeria, almost 80 per cent of the medical expenses are still paid out of pockets. This is a high cost compared to what we can gain if we have a pool of funds that everybody can access from, because the larger the pool the cheaper it will be for us to access health care. You do not need to start looking for money out of pocket, if the pool of fund is there, you will access care.”

According to him, the privileged should not forget that there are some people called ‘vulnerable’ who cannot afford health care when they need it.

He said that the Government had been very magnanimous since 2005, by trying as much as possible to make its own part of contribution into the pool of funds where people can access when there is need for them to get health care.

Thomas added that the country would need about N1.9 trillion to provide health care for all Nigeria in one year.

He said that a lot of people pay a lot to see a doctor on consultation, the sum enough to take care of a lot of people if pooled together.

The NHIS scribe said that the scheme had about 7.5 million enrollees in its database as at today constituting all federal workers, and spouses, children.

Thomas, however, said the number was negligible compared to the 170 million Nigerians.

He said the situation made the NHIS to look for programme that would involve and capture everybody irrespective of status in the society.

He emphasized that the situation made the scheme to design programme for OPS as well as states’ workers as they also carry a large part of work force.

According to him, the scheme has been extended to public primary pupils, students in tertiary institutions.

“We also have the PPP which is for Public Primary Pupil, we are thinking of enrolling them and also subsidise the payment for their health care. We have what we call: Tertiary Institution Social Health Insurance Programme with a population of over 4 million people for those in tertiary institutions all over the country,” he said.

“We also have the national mobile health insurance programme,” he added.

Earlier in his address, Mr Olusegun Oshinowo, the Director General of the Nigeria’s Employers Consultative Association (NECA) said that the coverage level of NHIS was very low.

Oshinowo said: “The fact is that, for any nation to grow its economy, it requires a healthy workforce, it is only a healthy workforce that can promote economic development. And for a nation to have a healthy work force, there must be an appropriate policy in place, an appropriate frame work in place an appropriate funding mechanism.

“That should ensure that each and every member of work force has access to basic health care but the coverage level is very low, under 10 per cent.”

He also frowned at the quality of service being provided under the scheme, stressing that it has been affecting the coverage level.

“If we do not tackle the issue of quality, we will not be able to extend meaningful health coverage to the bulk of the workforce who are actually in the informal sector and not in the formal sector. This is because the formal sector employees represent less than two per cent of the workforce of this economy.”

Oshinowo decried the poor quality of service from hospitals which had made NECA workers to patronise more than eight Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), in the last few years.

He said that the performance of NHIS in formal sector only could sell the scheme to the informal sector, urging the scheme to deliver quality service.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Healthcare Financing in Nigeria: NHIS and the Organised Private Sector’, Dr. Eke Jonathan, Ag General Manager, Formal Sector said that endemic poverty, inadequate budgetary allocation to health, among other factors necessitated the scheme.

He said: “The global economic problems with reduced Government revenues call for additional sources of resources for health care”

source: Daily Indepent

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