Health Insurance

One True Way Nigerians Can Have Equal Access To Healthcare

Health Insurance

One True Way Nigerians Can Have Equal Access To Healthcare 

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Health experts in Nigeria have said that there is one true way to establish equal access to health in the country.

The Managing Director, Ultimate Health, Lekan Ewenla, who is one of the experts revealed this during a press briefing in Abuja.

He said one true way to bridge the gap is to have equal access to the same health care system through the National Health Insurance Bill.

According to him, a good health insurance scheme will curtail the menace of medical vices such as:

  • Self-medication
  • Spiritualizing health challenges due to poverty.

He advised the Health stakeholders to embrace a health insurance scheme that allows both the rich and poor access to the same care.


The Managing Director highlighted the problem of inflation and its impact on every sector.

However, Ewenla advised that Nigeria looks for a way to tackle inflation without affecting the quality of healthcare.

He said:

“The inflation being experienced in the country is not peculiar to the health care sector. It cuts across all strata of society. 

“We are also going through a challenge. The way out is to encourage all the HMOs driving the private health insurance programme to key into the larger poll knowing fully well that health insurance cannot survive on a fragmented poll of the NHIS.

“The scheme recommended a minimum of 2,500 enrollees per facility. but if a facility has less than the recommended 2,500, it will be operating at a loss. Enrollees in some facilities are not treated well because the primary provider that is the risk-taker does not have the recommended volume. For this scheme to work, we need to look at the responsibility of the risk-takers, the primary provider, and the HMOs. Health insurance deals with risk pooling, and risk management deals with volume.

“To address these challenges, we need to put in place mandatory health insurance to have one nation, one health. The newly envisaged health insurance will be nationally controlled and locally driven. 

“States will be the ones to drive the insurance programme with harmonised benefit packages. Compulsory health insurance and health under one roof is the way to go, making all the states across the country have a uniform product.”

The outgoing chairman of the board Dahiru Muhammed spoke on the importance of the wider reach of health insurance.

He said that change is difficult. 

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According to him, the reception of health insurance since 2005, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo had been a tough fight.

He explained:

“The progress of Nigerians towards accepting health insurance is very slow; most people believe that the government should provide health services rather than the private sector. I must give credit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who took the initiative to introduce the health reform which gave birth to the health insurance scheme.

“Nigerians have been very slow in understanding and accepting the insurance scheme. We are at a learning curve. And I believe that we have turned around because the state, local, and the people have now accepted the concept of health insurance to an extent.”

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Muhammed expressed optimism about the outcome of the health insurance bill.

He said:

“It will work, but it would be a herculean task because if we force it, how do we ensure the implementation? It can work for structured workers like civil servants and the organised private sector, but when you go to the rural areas, how do you enforce it?

“There would be a need for a lot of education, publicity, persuasion, and cajoling to enlist people into the scheme. The best way to go through it is to go through the local government.

“Health would need to remain on the concurrent list; while we were growing up, the Federal government was hardly ever involved in health issues except at the Teaching hospital; it was a regional and local government affair.

“The Federal government should shelve some of these health responsibilities. The legislation should be with the Federal Government, but the enforcement should be done at the state and local government levels.”
Source: PUNCH Health Wise

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