As part of the efforts of the present administration to achieve universal coverage of health insurance, the driver of the project, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has offered to assist states to develop and implement their own health insurance programmes.
The Executive Secretary of the scheme, Femi Thomas, who disclosed this at a meeting with commissioners and permanent secretaries of the states’ ministries of Health across the nation, in Abuja, recently, expressed concern that the placement of health in the concurrent budget lists had generated conflicts between the states and the Federal Government.
He said his agency would turn the crisis to synergy in order to provide affordable health services to all citizens of the country.
According to him: “Having looked at the issues on our relationship with the states in the past, we have come up with a reviewed position on our engagement with states all over the country.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees adequate health for all. Incidentally, the same constitution has put health on the concurrent lists.
“But, over the years, this idea of being on the concurrent lists had been a source of conflict between the states and the federal government. But on our own side, we have found this very unnecessary.
“So, the time has come for us to use the principle of synergy to move health insurance forward in the country,” he observed.
Femi further explained that: “What we are saying is that instead of coming with your money to the NHIS, what we require of you will be to form your own health insurance board at the state levels, come out with your own programmes within the formal and informal sector.”
He stated that making it mandatory means that all those who are working, either in the formal or informal sector of the economy, must enrol in one form of health insurance or the other, and those who are not working must be covered through cross subsidy and some equity programmes.
Instead of doing free health services for the whole state ¬– for those who are working and for those who are not working, the NHIS boss said “you can limit this free health services to the vulnerable groups, who can now benefit under the equity programme and then, the federal government through the NHIS, can continue to support the equity programme in all the states for those who are not working and the vulnerable ones.”
Drawing attention to the ‘Save A Million Lives’ programme that is now maturing for launch, Femi said “We are also looking at the programme that can provide additional platform to support you through this equity programme, for those who are not working and for the vulnerable group.”
He said the scheme would support any willing state to start the programme immediately, adding that the whole essence of the initiative is for the scheme to look beyond the politically motivated free health programmes.
“There is no free health any where, somebody must pay for it. We encourage the states to come up with this programme and put all their efforts on free health programmes to be part of the equity programme under a social health insurance agency,” he added