The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Avon Healthcare Limited, a Health Maintenance Company (HMO), Adesimbo Ukiri, has commended the Lagos State Government for partnering with privately owned HMOs to administer the recently launched Lagos Health Insurance Scheme.
A statement quoted Ukiri to have made the remark while speaking on behalf of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), during a special stakeholders’ meeting held between leading healthcare professionals in the country, and the governor-elect of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Ukiri said: “We are delighted that the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme will run with Health Management Organisations as key partners in implementation. While we are aware of various previous discussions around the role of HMOs in the healthcare delivery framework, we remain steadfast as integral stakeholders whose contributions are necessary in order to move the country progressively towards Universal Healthcare Coverage.”
In commending the Lagos State government for engaging all stakeholders to create awareness for the programme, Ukiri stated that HMOs were prepared to bring their experience in attracting individual and corporate sign-ups to boost adoption of the scheme.
“In recent years, health management organisations like Avon HMO have had to build their customer base from scratch, relying on value delivered and customer service differentiation to endear themselves to the populace. “Nigerians do not easily part with money for services and products that are not immediately tangible and health insurance is no exception to this.”
Ukiri, however mentioned that cultural aversion to health insurance was an issue that HMOs shouldn’t be left to confront alone if the Lagos health insurance scheme was to succeed.
She stressed that the success of the scheme depends on the joint ability of all stakeholders to influence and change the perception and behaviour of Lagosians towards their healthcare spend and the need to stop paying out of pocket.
“One area we’ve had to focus on at Avon HMO for instance is in changing the mindset of people towards health insurance but this burden shouldn’t be borne by HMOs alone.
“The Lagos State government’s commitment to carrying out widespread sensitisation and enlightenment programmes across the state is most welcome and we urge them to intensify efforts in this regard. This way, our combined activities will have a more significant impact on the people.
“In addition, we must ensure that medical utilisation data collected from the scheme is robust, accurate and seamless across all touch points throughout the healthcare value chain.
“Data is crucial to the growth of any healthcare system and is one of our shortcomings as a country. Thankfully, the Lagos State Government has assured all that it has taken steps on investing in the required I.T platform to make this possible.”
Adesimbo also called on other states considering health insurance schemes to follow the example being set by the Lagos State Government in order for the country to actualise universal health coverage.