Doing by the projections of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Federal Government has set a 10-year target to provide full health insurance coverage for all Nigerians. According to NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof Mohammed Nasir Sambo, all Nigerians will be captured in national health insurance scheme by 2030. He made the vow while inspecting facilities at the Garki Hospital, Abuja, recently.
“Our aim is that by the year 2030, all Nigerians will have had the opportunity to get into the social health insurance system as a principle of solidarity, as a mechanism for cross subsidization and effective healthcare financing,” Prof Sambo said.
To meet the target, the NHIS boss said the scheme is fine-tuning its policies and programmes to engender closer collaboration with healthcare providers, health maintenance organisations and sundry stakeholders. Specifically, Prof. Sambo described the problem plaguing health insurance scheme in Nigeria as systemic, which requires a complete paradigm shift. “What we have been doing in the last two years is to engender value re-orientation that will make the scheme a credible and result-oriented organization; entrenching transparency and accountability in the entire operations of the national health insurance scheme as well as accelerate the attainment of universal coverage coming with so many initiatives,” he explained.
He also expressed concerns on the waiting time for the issuance of authorisation codes for referral cases by health management organisations. “We say that we wanted to reduce the waiting period to six hours and when we look at the structure available at the level of NHIS, we realize that we just made a promise that we cannot fulfill. We need to do some structural changes that will allow us to be able to adhere to the six hours,” he suggested.
Prof Sambo promised quick structural changes to decentralise the activities of NHIS by empowering the states with necessary human resources and infrastructure to “perform the stewardship role.” He listed some of the changes at NHIS as restoration of quarterly payment to the HMOs by giving them a three-month capitation payment to remove delay in paying service providers; tariff for health insurance services to reflect the staggering inflation in the national economy and partnering with giant drug manufactures to produce NHIS- branded drugs. “We are also working with NAFDAC in this initiative so that whatever drug that is going to be produced by the accredited manufacturers will be of standard and quality and ensure regular availability of the drugs,” he added.
He also praised the PPP model operating at Garki Hospital, which he said has manifested in efficient management of human and material resources. He expressed surprise that the hospital with over 600 workers is not funded by the government and promised to partner with the hospital on its cost effective method for delivering healthcare services.
The Medical Director, Garki Hospital, Dr. Adamu Onu, who said a well-structured and efficient health insurance scheme is the pillar to providing universal health coverage for Nigerians, identified areas of improvement for Nigeria’s health insurance scheme: proper documentation of beneficiaries and their records as well as standardisation to streamline areas of insurance coverage.
Dr. Onu disclosed that Garki Hospital currently offers both primary and secondary care services to 33,468 NHIS patients, all registered on a digital platform. The hospital was accredited in 2008 and in September 2018 all its NHIS patients were consolidated into one operational unit. He said the scheme is working smoothly because the hospital ensures open and transparent billing system and ensures that no patient waits for more than 30 minutes before seeing a doctor. “We also give priority to continuous training of our personnel, especially resident doctors and we are able to offer specialized surgery including cardiac open (heart surgery) as well as hip and knee replacement surgery,” he disclosed.