NHIS Moves to Recover N27bn from Banks, Federation Account

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*  Over 10m Nigerians now subscribe to health insurance

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, has disclosed that the management of the Scheme is making efforts to recover missing funds of about N27 billion.

According to Sambo, “We have about N11 billion trapped in the Federation Account since 2014. We have been meeting with the Minister of Finance to see how to get it back. Also, we have been pursuing another N10 billion lodged in Heritage Bank, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been helping us to recover it. When there was COVID-19, N6 billion was taken from the NHIS account without notice.

“So, we are working on recovering those resources, and we have agreed at the level of management that a proportion of the money that are recovered will be put on strategy investment,” he said.

Speaking on progress so far made in improving the subscription for the insurance scheme, Sambo said over 10 million Nigerians have now subscribed to the NHIS.

He stated that so far, about 10,269,996 have enrolled into the scheme as at last Friday.

In his progress report presented at an informal engagement with health correspondents in Kaduna last weekend, the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Sambo, said the organisation has been able to save money from it cost-saving reforms.

On the progress made in raising the subscriber base of the scheme, he said: “The population of Nigerians that have enrolled in the health insurance scheme has risen to 10,269,996 from 6 million earlier reported by the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS.).”

Sambo explained that as part of strategies to increase its subscriber base, NHIS has mapped the entire segments of the Nigerian population, including the Nigerian Youth Service Corp (NYSC).

The NHIS boss said: “We have mapped the population, and we are engaging the management of the NYSC to ensure that they are covered in the framework of the national health insurance scheme. You know that there was a presidential directive in the past that all NYSC members should be covered by the scheme, but due to budgetary constraints, it was not implemented.”

Sambo also said NHIS was making efforts to retrieve about N11 billion mistakenly trapped in the federation account.

In the same vein, he said the scheme was working with the EFCC to recover another N10 billion lodged at Heritage Bank by previous leadership of the scheme.

Sambo, who delivered a speech highlighting the achievements recorded by NHIS since his appointment in November 2019, said the problem of the health insurance scheme has been that of poor enrolment.

He stated that contrary to insinuation that NHIS has not been able to achieve much in terms of teaching the universal health insurance for all in the last 20 years, “the major impediment is the law limiting it’s utilisation.”

Sambo said the best way to fund health insurance is by pooling resources through mass enrolling in the health insurance scheme at all levels.

The executive secretary said while appreciable progress is being made at the federal level, not much is happening in the state and local government areas in terms of enrolment into state health insurance scheme.

He disclosed that one of the recent decisions taken by the management is to ensure NHIS is fully automated to achieve seamless operations.