Credequity and the Burden of Healthcare Financing

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Stethoscope

Martins Ifijeh

With the number of flashy cars in Nigeria, and the increased consumption of fuel in the country, according to national statistics, it is easy to say Nigerians are getting richer with a robust middle class who, on the average, own at least two ‘tokunbo’ cars and live in decent apartments.

But another school of thought believes there are only two classes in the country; rich and the poor. To this group, what is referred to as a middle class is fallacy and deception, as the monthly take home of such category of persons do not exceed $2,000.

While both thoughts seemed valid on the surface value, the Nigerian middle class is only one major sickness away from becoming poor with all life savings, including houses and cars, disappearing into thin air in a bid to get treatment.

For instance, late Sylvester Adebowale, a fitness enthusiast, was of the middle class. But he was diagnosed of kidney failure which turned him within months into a poor man. He was asked to choose between kidney transplant and dialysis.

If he opts for haemodialysis, he will have to undergo three session every week at a cost of N30,000 per session. This amounts to N4.6 million annually, and of course, excludes cost of medication.

If he opts for a transplant, he would have to pay up to N10 million for the procedure and will subsequently be spending up to N200,000 monthly on medication for life. The GoFundMe program he started didn’t yield much and the poor man died as he could not keep up with the financial costs of the recommended dialysis treatment.

Like Adebowale, many Nigerians, mainly the poor and the middle class, die, not because there are no treatments for their diseases but because they cannot afford the cost.

An option that could fill in for the people in this sad situation, the Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO), mostly focus on corporate organisations or require a 100 per cent upfront payment before they extend their cover, thus putting Nigerians between the devil and the deep blue sea.

It is against this backdrop that Credequity hopes to address the narrative by bringing healthcare services to every Nigerian.

Credequity, founded by Zainab Abiola and Tunde Leye, aims at helping businesses make their products and services affordable, with special focus on healthcare, insurance, lifestyle commitments like rent, car or equipment purchase and school fees.

According to Abiola in a chat with THISDAY, Credequity has partnered Hygeia Nigeria, one of the foremost and leading HMOs in the country to develop various bouquets of health management products that would effectively cover the individual, family or corporate organisations at affordable rates and with convenient payment terms.

“This partnership has made it possible for any HMO prospective subscriber, unlike before, to simply buy health plans, pay monthly and select one of almost 800 hospitals in its network nationwide immediately without any form of pre-qualification required.

It has expanded its offerings from the two original plans, HY Basic and HY Prime, where subscribers make monthly subscription fees of N2,950 and N5,850 respectively to include two senior plans for those aged 50 years and above, a basic family plan as well as the SME plan for small and medium scale enterprises
“Those on the Senior Mini plan pay N9,000 monthly, while their counterparts in the Senior Midi plan pay N24,100 monthly. The big difference between the two plans is that the Senior Midi plan covers chronic illnesses (diabetes, hypertension, etc.), their medication, has much higher limits, gives access to semi-private wards and a more exclusive set of hospitals,” he said.

Leye said subscribers to the basic family plan pay the subscription fee of N6,000 monthly, adding that this plan covers a family of four — parents and two children or dependents who must be below the age of 70 years.
He said: “Credequity in addition to breaking its plan into convenient and manageable sizes, has also simplified the subscription processes for prospects who may wish to get good health cover.”