The federal government will spend a staggering N1.4 trillion on the health insurance premiums of around 83 million Nigerians, who are among the country’s most vulnerable residents.
Professor Nasir Mohammed Sambo, Director General/Chief Executive Officer, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), formerly National Health Insurance Scheme, stated this at the SEMPER FIDELIS Award organized for him by the Health Care Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) in Lagos, saying that the federal government’s annual budgetary provisions for Nigerians’ health care needs account for only 9.6 percent of the figure.
He said the vulnerable citizens constitute about 40 per cent of the Nigerian population whom the federal government needs to pay for their health insurance bills because of the deep penetration of the national health insurance scheme. This means that the remaining 60% of the population outside the vulnerable category has no yearly provision for their healthcare requirements.
Sambo stated that the new National Health Insurance Authority, established by the government in May 2022 to replace the previous National Health Insurance Scheme through a change in some clauses in Section 16 of the National Health Insurance Act, is working hard to achieve the United Nations’ Universal Health Insurance initiative even before the year 2030 target.
He stated that the difficulty with the plan’s successful execution throughout the years has been the regulation, which has failed to make it mandatory for states to participate in the system. He said with the successful change in the regulation, which has made it an all-inclusive scheme, its effective implementation nationwide is sure. He said the national health insurance scheme, if fully implemented, would help Nigeria to key in and achieve the United Nations universal health initiative by the year 2030.
“We want to achieve universal health initiative of the UN before the deadline in 2030 by this singular act by the President the law has made it clear, we are promoter, regulator, integrator what we are after now is how to operationally use the law so that all issues that have to do with population will now come in our operational guidelines and what are the necessary structure to ensure that regulation is done. On top of it, we have worked assiduously under our Digital Transformation framework whereby everything can be IT-driven. These are structures that have been put in place so that by the time the guideline is very clear in line with the stipulation of the law, we are certain that we will have a very robust mechanism to control effective regulation, ”he stated.
According to Sambo, the government is ready to pay for about 83 million vulnerable Nigerians, but those who can afford to pay for themselves, that is, those that are workers and are self-employed, will pay for themselves to ensure that the national health insurance scheme is all-inclusive.
In his remarks, HCPAN President, Dr Jimmy Arigbabuwo, said the SEMPER FIDELIS Award by the HCPAN was in recognition of Sambo’s immense contributions to repositioning the critical stakeholders in the health insurance scheme and issues in Nigeria.
He said HCPAN perceived Sambo’s consistency and transparency about the transformational agenda so far as worthy of emulation.
According to him, the recent achievement of Universal health coverage modalities with signage of the mandatory health insurance bill into law on May 19th, 2022, by the NHIAACCT 17, remains a living testimony of changing the narratives and gaining play in the Nigerian health insurance project.
He said Sambo had worked tirelessly with the National Assembly and the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria to see the evolution of the bill into law through serious advocacies, conferences, summits, and study tours as well as intra and inter-ministerial meetings and workshops.