* Police, DSS already enjoying scheme
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has extended health and insurance cover to all pensioners.
A statement by the Head, Media and Public Relations Unit of NHIA, Emmanuel Ononokpono, said that organisations like the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS) are already paying for health care coverage of their retirees.
The statement quoted the Director General of NHIA, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, as having given the indication during a courtesy visit by the Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) in Abuja.
Sambo said that extending health insurance to pensioners is consistent with best practices around the world, adding that the most effective care for aging persons was to give them unqualified access to affordable and quality healthcare.
He stated that coverage for pensioners was a critical aspect of attaining universal health coverage, adding that government was favourably disposed to ensuring that persons who have served the country with a better part of their lives should have access to care without further financial burden.
Under the deal, NHIA will enroll 237,000 PTAD pensioners for health insurance.
On how the initiative will be funded, Sambo said that organisations should take responsibility for paying for their retirees’ insurance cover.
He said that healthcare must be paid for because it is impossible for it to be free, adding that support of relevant government agencies would be required to achieve sustainable financing.
Sambo said that organisations like the NPF and DSS were already paying for health care coverage of their retirees, noting that funding healthcare for pensioners was critical to institutionalizing the initiative and making it enduring.
Sambo further said that the Authority is proposing a process of coverage of pensioners through an internal budgetary provision.
In her remark, the Executive Secretary of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Dr. Chioma Ejikeme, highlighted the plight of pensioners around the country, noting that the law setting up PTAD gives leverage to the agency to explore ways of improving the welfare of pensioners.
Ejikeme noted that promoting the welfare of pensioners was central to the operations of the agency, adding that PTAD had worked tirelessly to ensure a transparent and accountable system for retirees.
According to her, an ICT- driven system codenamed, “I am Alive” Confirmation Solution has enabled a verification process that cleaned up the database by removing fictitious pensioners, maintaining that PTAD has developed the most reliable data on pensioners.