NHIS Seeks Partnership with States on Health Insurance Coverage

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has advocated what it described as the concept of “Health Insurance Under One Roof” as a strategy towards the attainment of universal health coverage in the country.

The initiative, according to the agency, would facilitate an agreement on coverage areas of focus in the provision of health insurance services.

NHIS, in a statement yesterday by its Head, Media and Public Relations, Mr. Ayo Osinlu, said under the proposed arrangement, there would be a clear definition of scopes of health insurance in Nigeria, and the determination of who covers each of the segments between NHIS and the state agencies.

He quoted the NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, saying the agency’s leadership had recently discussed the strategy with the State Social Health Insurance Agencies (SSHIAs) at a meeting in Abuja.

While presenting the concept at a meeting of Chief Executives of SSHIAs, management of the scheme and a cross section of the development partners, the the NHIS boss emphasised that the greatest impediment to speedy attainment of universal health coverage in the country remains fragmentation of resources, policies, efforts and strategies.

He said this would not only result in loss of time and energy, but also in total contradiction of the most significant principle of health insurance which is pooling.

Sambo pointed out the need to develop an appropriate and enabling setting, which he described as the matrix of coverage that would be a systematic arrangement to facilitate the achievement of set objectives.

In this case, the healthcare financing expert recommended a clear definition of scopes of health insurance in Nigeria, and a determination of who covers each of the segments between NHIS and the state agencies.

He suggested an arrangement where NHIS remains responsible for the formal sector, while the state health insurance agencies take charge of the informal sector population at the grassroots, which is closer to the state government system.

Sambo explained that in the proposed arrangement, the development and deployment of ICT solutions as well as information, education and communication activities would have overarching and cross-cutting status, providing overall support services for the operational and management processes of health insurance in Nigeria.

As part of steps to facilitate the collaborative effort, the NHIS boss said that a retreat would be held in the second week of February to generate a framework for developing a set of conditions to produce a system for the effective operation and administration of health insurance.

Representatives of the Forum of CEOs of SSHIAs led by its Chairman, Dr. Adeniyi Oginni, expressed suoport for the concept as a strategy that would ease the process and fast-track the attainment of UHC in Nigeria.