NHIS to Assist States Develop Own Health Insurance

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

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Ihesiulo Grace

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