The Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority, NHIA, Mohammed Nasir Sambo says about 83 million Nigerians are estimated to benefit from the newly introduced compulsory health insurance law that was recently assented into law as National Health Insurance Authority Act, NHIA Act, by President Buhari. The statement was disclosed by the Director General of the National Health Insurance Authority, Mohammed Nasir Sambo during a one-day news conference/workshop for health reporters on NHIA Act in Abuja yesterday.
The new health insurance law which provided for the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Fund, VGF, does not in any way impose a telecoms tax as its source of the fund as being speculated by some mischief makers, Sambo said.
According to the NHIA boss, the new law” fundamentally resets the ecosystem” as it “changes the name of the agency from National Health Insurance Scheme to National Health Insurance Authority”, explained that under NHIA Act, health insurance becomes mandatory.
Sambo disclosed that on the journey to achieve Universal Health Coverage, UHC was still on track as the agency was ready and prepared to implement and internationalised the Act.
He projected that by the year 2030 the effort to tackle the high incidence of poverty caused by out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare was realistic through health insurance for all categories of Nigerians.
Explaining, Sambo said, “The moment President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Act, the NHIA Act empowers the Authority to see to it that all Nigerians and legal residents have health insurance. This is a complete departure from the previous law that made health insurance optional.
“The NHIA Act brings renewed prospects for the delivery of effective health insurance in Nigeria, and fundamentally resets the ecosystem.
He added, “The Act establishes and empowers the NHIA to ensure the provision of health insurance for all Nigerians through a mandatory mechanism, in collaboration with state health insurance agencies,”
He noted that “Specifically, Sections 25 and 26 of the Act establish the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF), indicating the various sources from which funding would be drawn.
This as he emphasized that “the legislation strengthens the NHIA to discharge a wide range of regulatory and promotion functions to ultimately ensure that every Nigerian receives access to quality and affordable health care.”
Speaking on cancer patient inclusiveness in the program, Sambo revealed that the agency was seeking collaboration with Roche Products Nigeria Limited on Cancer Care Reimbursement Initiative.
He explained, “Roche will pay 50% of the amount; NHIA will pay 30% of the money, and the patient pay 20% of the amount,”
Sambo added that the beauty of the new act is that health insurance has been made compulsory for everyone, though the public sector is already in and the organized sectors are being persuaded to join.
Outlining the benefit of the program, he said, “There are numerous benefits in health insurance which is to protect them. The government will also come up with policies that 8f you have to enroll your children in schools; you have to present evidence of health insurance. Even when you don’t go to school, you will go to the hospital, and you must produce your health insurance evidence. As in most cases, 70% of out-of-pocket expenditure is being spent on health emergencies, and We want to ensure that this is reduced to below 50%.”