The advent of online health insurance system in Nigeria by AVON HMO promises to change the Nigerian health sector for good. Martins Ifijeh writes
Despite the enormous benefits of health insurance to a society, especially to low income countries where healthcare is still being paid from out-of-pocket, there remains apathy in accessing the healthcare scheme, which was designed to take medical financial burden out of the citizens.
For Nigeria, healthcare players say only about four per cent of Nigerians are on health insurance even though legislations have been made to encourage Nigerians and stakeholders to take advantage of the system, which ordinarily should help provide better healthcare experience.
The birthing of several Health Management Organisations (HMO) in the country has also not helped in increasing the number of Nigerians and organisations who should key into any health insurance plan.
But this concern is not a challenge for developed nations like the United States and Britain due to various innovations and policies that have helped in making their citizens accept the scheme. For instance, there are adequate policy frameworks to encourage organisations to provide health insurance for their workers. Same for families. Also, innovations like the use of social media has been a persuasive force and a more convenient way, as this has also helped them register for health plans and manage their subscriptions even in the comfort of their homes.
While the Nigerian government has a law in place mandating organisations with more than 10 employees to provide health insurance for their staff, lack of implementation of the law has unfortunately made it a toothless law, leaving the country with only an option to, like in U.S. and UK, provide convenient platforms for registering and managing health plans with a click away from their phones and computers, since already, 97 million Nigerians are already internet users, with majority spending more time on the internet than anywhere else.
It is in achieving this, and revolutionalising the country’s healthcare system, that AVON HMO is introducing the online healthcare platform, first of its kind in Nigeria, so as to savage the situation and then bring more information about health insurance to Nigerians even in their homes and on the go.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the HMO, Mrs. Adesimbo Ukiri, during the launch of the online platform recently in Lagos, said the burden of various diseases in the country must be reduced through decisive measures, one of which is the introduction of AVON HMO Online in Nigeria for quick, easy access to affordable healthcare, adding that, since more Nigerians were internet users, the online platform would help them take charge of their health even when they are not prepared financially for treatment should the case arise.
She said in Nigeria, most expensive treatments are not covered by health insurance, leaving the citizens at the mercy of the disease, as this has somewhat increased the burden and prevalence of diseases in the country and in other low income countries, as against countries where health insurance is much embraced.
On how the online platform works, Ukiri said with an internet enabled phone, tablet or computers, one can log into AVON HMO website and register for one of the health plans within five minutes.
She said: “Many people today live life on the go and expect often immediacy. As the focus of Avon HMO remains on our customers, we constantly think of ways to make their lives easier and access to healthcare simpler. We embraced technology and chose to update our website so that people can subscribe to a health plan whenever and wherever they are, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“People who visit our website now can buy one of health plan for themselves or their families’ in the same way they shop for products and services online. Prospective members are just a few clicks away from subscribing to their preferred plans and this is extremely exciting.
“With health plans starting as low as N15,000 per year, we intend to bring quality service more to the people through the online platform. Subscription to an Avon HMO plan means that whenever a covered ill health or accident occurs, the state of one’s finances won’t matter as Avon HMO oversees the healthcare service delivery and foots the bill. By giving people the ability to buy and subscribe online via mobile phones and other devices, we are bringing convenient and affordable healthcare services to everyone.”
Ukiri said that since its entry into the health insurance space in 2013, Avon HMO continues to set the insurance industry alight with its customer-centric and innovative products, services and initiatives.
Her words: “We have already developed a good relationship with hospitals we work with because we keep to our words; we pay within the timeline agreed. If you have somebody who is in a lower cost plan and the condition becomes critical, we will get you the best consultant in that field just because what you paid in the premium is relatively low dose not entail we have to give you the least cost doctor. We give you the specialist that has the experience to manage your case.”
The MD said they also work with the government tertiary institutions because that is where most of the exposed and experienced consultants are.
On her part, the Managing Director, Integrated Medical Centre, Dr. Damilola Familoni, said while she was away in the U.S. and surfing through her Instagram page, she was surprised to see AVON HMO now on Instagram with health tips and need for people to subscribe to health insurance.
“Social media and websites are a great way to breaking into the health insurance market in Nigeria where apathy still persists,” she added.