New Bill Will Ensure Mandatory Health Insurance, Says Tejuoso

Lanre Tejuoso

Martins Ifijeh

The recently passed bill for the enactment of the National Health Insurance Commission by the Nigerian Senate will ensure it is mandatory for every resident of the country to contribute a minimum amount to health insurance pool, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuoso has said.

He said this will in turn mean Nigerians will no longer pay out of pocket for healthcare, and that it would inch the country closer to achieving universal health coverage.

In a chat with THISDAY recently, he said once the National Assembly transmits the bill to the executive and it is duly signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, it would now be mandatory for every Nigerian to contribute to the scheme; whether from the formal sector or informal sector.

Titled, National Health Insurance Act, 2003 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019, it was named Senate Bill 278.

He said: “If we have 100 million Nigerians, for example, contributing N200 each month to the pool, we will have N20 billion per month and N240 billion per annum for the health sector. This will put us at the level of health financing of successful countries as far as health delivery is concerned.

“The common features among countries enjoying good health systems and universal health coverage is a reasonably high percentage of national budget dedicated to health sector. African countries signed to a minimum of 15 per cent of national budget for health sector to guaranty a functional health sector. Nigeria has never surpassed four per cent,” he said.

On the impact this will have on Nigerians, he said this will make all primary health centresin every ward of the country functional, and any contributing Nigerian shall not be denied basic healthcare provision at any centre in the country, free of charge. We shall also have less impact of the frequent industrial actions of health workers as the PHCs will be financially sustainable.

Reacting to the bill’s passage earlier, Senate President Bukola Saraki said, “I think it is the best gift we can give to all Nigerians to ensure that they have basic healthcare for everyone.”

Saraki congratulated Tejuoso and all those who worked on this bill, adding, “it is a massive achievement towards achieving universal coverage in the country”.