The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Mohammed Sambo has said with at least one third of Nigeria’s budget, set aside every year, conservatively put at three trillion Naira, would provide about 200 million Nigerians access to National Health Insurance.
Prof. Mohammed Sambo stated this during a courtesy visit to the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, while responding to a question on the sufficiency of funding for the Scheme.
He further stated that with sufficient funds in the health insurance pool, the Scheme would expand its benefit package to include medical conditions such as cancer which is currently excluded. He added that the establishment of a Catastrophic Fund was being planned to specifically address terminal ailments.
Giving details of efforts at expanding coverage to all segments of the society, Sambo disclosed that all processes to enroll members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) into the Scheme have been finalized and coverage will be commenced with the release of funds by the government for that purpose, adding that plans to extend health insurance cover to the elderly and retirees have reached advanced stage.
While acknowledging the challenges of drug dispensing within the health insurance system, he expressed the optimism that NHIS’ collaboration with drug manufacturers, in a plan that will effect direct supplies to hospitals, will ensure affordability and availability.
Emphasizing the importance of an efficient system where stakeholders observed laid down rules, the healthcare financing expert disclosed that the debt reconciliation exercise directed by the Scheme between HMOs and HCPs yielded the paying back of N26billion to hospitals, adding that complaints from facilities about payments have dropped significantly.
Speaking during the visit, the managing director of NAN, Mr. Buki Ponle stated that the agency practices development journalism, adding that NAN had changed the narrative in reporting Africa through development issues.