Next Level: FG to Provide Premium-free Health Insurance to Poor, Says Osinbajo

Shola Oyeyipo

The federal government is working towards establishing a compulsory Health Insurance Scheme where government pays the premium for the poor, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed yesterday.

In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo was quoted as saying that the proposed scheme was part of the ‘Next Level’ agenda.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) had on November 18 inaugurated its campaign for the 2019 general election tagged: `Next Level.’

Osinbajo spoke last Tuesday night as guest of honour at the Invest Africa forum hosted by the publishers of Africa Report magazine at London’s Royal Society hall.

“On healthcare, to cut the long story short, the next level is the National Health Insurance scheme. However, at the moment, we have National Health Insurance, which is not compulsory.

“So, we are looking at compulsory National Health Insurance and we are also looking at how to pay the premium, especially for the poorest in the society,” he stated.

The vice president, who took questions from the publishers of Africa Report and the audience, explained that the plan was to have a co-payment arrangement.

He said the government would provide payments of premium or free medical care for 40 per cent which is the poorest segment in the country, and the other 60 per cent will be compulsory co-payments for formal and informal workers.

Osinbajo said at the moment, most people who seek medical help paid out of pockets, adding that it was one of the reasons why Nigeria has poor health indices at the moment.

On the prospects of the Petroleum Industry Bill, the vice president said it could still be signed into law after all the necessary amendments had been made, possibly before the end of the eighth Assembly.

He said:“We hope that the bill will become law before the end of the eighth assembly.”

On the chances of APC winning the forthcoming 2019 election, Osinbajo said in the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party had nothing tangible to show Nigerians despite earning over $382 billion in oil revenue between 2010 and 2014.

He said the PDP had not cured itself of corruption, and urged Nigerians to ignore the party in the coming elections as it has nothing to offer them.

Osinbajo pointed out that since returning to power in 2015, the APC-led government had invested over N2.7trillion on infrastructural development at a time the country was earning less.

On the privatisation of some of the public enterprises, the vice-president said the exercise, especially in the electricity power sector, was “poorly done” under the PDP government.

He referred to a trending video of a 2014 interview where the PDP presidential candidate actually confessed to the failure of the past PDP president as in the power sector.

Speaking on the strategy of the government in improving the quality of education in Nigeria, he disclosed that the federal government had evolved a plan to partner state governments to improve the quality of education at all levels.

“What we have is a 10-year programme; but we expect to deliver at a much shorter period. The main issue really is that funding education is difficult just from the budget,’’ he said.

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