NHIS Flags off New Group Health Insurance for Nigerians

  • Senate: Only 7% covered by scheme

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has formally launched a new health insurance policy known as the Group, Individual and Family social insurance package.
The launch of the insurance package came just as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, lamented that despite the commencement of NHIS many years ago, only 7 per cent of Nigerians are covered under in the scheme.
Speaking during the launch of the insurance scheme tagged GIFSHIP on Thursday in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, NHIS, Prof. Nasiru Sambo, said the move was in keeping with the determination of the federal government to expand the health insurance coverage to accommodate all Nigerians.
Under the new scheme, groups and families can now enjoy special health insurance cover.
Sambo said that as part of efforts to improve its services, the scheme has fully automised its operations through the e-NHIS platform.
According to him, all the information and documentation relating to the NHIS can now be accessed through its website.
NHIS was established about 20 years ago by Act 35 of 1999 now CAP N42 LFN 2004, with the mandate to ensure financial access to quality health services for all Nigerians through health insurance.
The scheme started with a number of models of health insurance, culminating in the commencement of the formal sector programme for federal civil servants.
Sambo said that NHIS had since developed other programmes which targeted different population segments with the aim of bringing them into a common pool.
While explaining the uniqueness of the new insurance package to an audience in Abuja, Sambo said the programme will enable individuals, families and groups to join the NHIS ecosystem.
GIFSHIP comes under three categories of beneficiaries, family (N60,000 premium), one to three individuals 1-3 (N45,000 premium) and group (N15,000 premium).
He said that some of the appealing features of the insurance package are “the inbuilt mechanisms to guard against moral hazard, adverse selection as well as allowing room for organizations, political office holders, donor agencies, multinational corporations, philanthropists and people in diaspora to contribute their quota towards the attainment of UHC”.
Sambo further said that GIFSHIP will leverage on the overarching e-NHIS framework, which has been on the drawing board for more than a decade and which was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), to be deployed in a few months time.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who unveiled the insurance product, described GIFSHIP as a product of the lessons learned and the experience gained from implementing a previous programme, the Vital Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP).
According to the minister, the new programme addresses the challenges and barriers encountered during the implementation of the VCSHIP, both by beneficiaries and operators.
“GIFSHIP eliminates known difficulties as it creates additional value by expanding and upgrading VCSHIP for better reach, service quality and user experience.
“Those who have closely followed the story of NHIS will not fail to note that this is the benefit of the enabling environment for productive work accruing from the peace and harmony that now reign there,” he said.
In his remarks, Senator Oloriegbe said that the coverage of the health insurance scheme has been very low.
He said the Senate recently passed the Bill reviewing the NHIS Act and renaming it the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
According to Oloriegbe, the NHIA will bring all other health insurance scheme under one roof.
He also said that the new Act will make health insurance mandatory for every Nigerian.