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April 22, 2024
You are currently viewing Health insurance: We’ll ensure coverage of more Nigerians – NHIA D-G nominee

Health insurance: We’ll ensure coverage of more Nigerians – NHIA D-G nominee

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By Naomi Sharang

Dr Kelechi Ohiri, Director-General nominee for the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), said he would ensure coverage of more Nigerians under the health insurance scheme.

Ohiri said this on Tuesday during his screening by the Senate Committee on Health, in Abuja.

In his presentation, the nominee said it was true that very few Nigerians had financial protection from the cost of health care.

“The number we have shows that less than seven per cent of Nigerians are protected, are covered.

“This number has been under 10 per cent since inception. It is quite low, and we need to improve upon it if Nigeria is to be on the path of universal health care coverage,” he said.

He said there were many reasons why these numbers were low including policy framework, the issue of awareness and trust.

“Health insurance has been one of the many things that the government has introduced to improve access to care and as such it was voluntary.

“With the passage of the NHIA act in 2022, we now have health insurance as mandatory.

“For insurance to work, that mandate is a critical part of driving and improving coverage,” he said.

Ohiri said, indeed, there was no awareness of health insurance as a veritable tool for financial protection.

“Some of it is cultural, some of it is more work and effort that is needed on our path to educate fellow Nigerians.

“We have about 70 per cent of Nigerians who still pay for care out of pocket or privately, and this means that they are vulnerable to the shocks, they are vulnerable to the rising cost of health care.

“Bringing a lot of these under the umbrella of health insurance will enable us to increase coverage,” he said.

Ohiri further said there were some Nigerians that could not afford the premium required for insurance.

“This is where interventions come in such as the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, and recently the Vulnerable Group Fund.

“These are three fundamental things we need to address to begin to increase the coverage of health insurance,” Ohiri said.

Earlier, chairperson of the committee, Sen. Banigo Ipalibo, asked the nominee how he proposed to get the exact number of persons covered by health insurance both in the formal and informal sectors.

She said without gainsaying, health insurance was the way to go, adding that it would reduce out of pocket expenses for citizens.

Ipalibo urged the nominee to ensure that the vulnerable group fund was utilised effectively to touch the lives of children under five years, pregnant women and the elderly above 60. (NAN)

Edited by Salif Atojoko

Philip Daniel Yatai

Principal Correspondent, NAN Abuja
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