Lagos inaugurates mandatory health insurance to achieve universal coverage
*HCPAN seeks innovative ways of financing services in Nigeria
The Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Dr Jide Idris has said the state’s health insurance scheme is mandatory and will include basic primary health services and selected secondary health services such as caesarean section, hernia, and appendectomy among other common surgeriesHe said others are treatment and management of malaria, hypertension; common childhood illnesses, antenatal care services and delivery.
Idris said the design of the benefit package, reviews of the common health challenges and poor health indices, especially those centred on both maternal and child mortality and morbidity were carried out to understand the needs of the state’s population and informed the development of the benefit package.
He said this is in a bid to expand access to healthcare services in the state and ensure that people living in the state, regardless of their socio-economic status, achieve their full potential.
“The poor and vulnerable individuals will be identified through a transparent and scientific means testing exercise which will be carries out periodically. Therefore, the number of lives and the productivity lost to illness will be significantly reduced,” he said.
The General Manager, Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Dr Peju Adenusi said the scheme, which was duly signed into law in June 2015 by the Lagos State House of Assembly is a mandatory health insurance program for all residents of the state and will be implemented by the Agency, which she said is responsible for overseeing the implementation of policies, administration of appropriate regulations and guidelines of the scheme. She maintained that the health insurance scheme would not only improve the overall health indices but also strengthen the healthcare delivery system and provide financial risk protection against catastrophic and impoverishing healthcare expenditure for all residents of Lagos state adding that the scheme is the right strategy towards achieving universal health coverage. This, she said will be achieved in collaboration with stakeholders such as Health Insurance agents, healthcare providers drawn from public and private sectors and the people of the State.
The Country Director, Pharmaccess Foundation, Njide Ndili said the foundation collaborated with the state government to implement the “Access to Finance Initiative”, which is in phases to ensure that providers are able to access low interest loans to facilitate the revitalization of the state’s primary healthcare facilities, thus expanding access to quality care to the people.
Speaking on behalf of the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), the Chief Executive Officer, Hygeia HMO Obinna Abajue said the health organisations would ensure mobilization of people for registration and enrolment needed so that every resident of the state would get access to affordable and quality healthcare without financial risk as well as ensure sustainability of the scheme.
Meanwhile, Health Care Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) have said that mandatory health insurance and decentralised healthcare system are essential for the country to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC).They made the remarks during its 14th annual general meeting/scientific conference stressing that a well designed healthcare insurance scheme will facilitate fair financing of healthcare cost, pooling and judicious utilization, risk protection and cost burden prior to ill health of an individual.
National President, HCPAN, Dr Umar Sanda said that the association has witnessed a great leap in recent times because of the unrelenting efforts on the path of many its committed members and the solid foundation laid by our founding fathers.He continued: “This year’s Theme: ‘Awakening Health Insurance in Nigeria to Achieving Universal Health Coverage’ is chosen because of the turbulence and lull in the progress of health insurance in our country. “We have many hurdles to cross but it is surmountable. Nigeria population is growing our health indices are bad, budget allocated for health by both federal and states governments are not encouraging; many smaller African countries are overtaking Nigeria in achieving Universal Health Coverage.”
Sanda highlighted that the major problem of the country’s health sector is health financing, “we must find innovate ways of solving this problem, the believe that health insurance is the solution which is supported by World Health Organisation as a means of Achieving Universal Health coverage, equally as a right of all Nigerians.” The president appealed to both the executive and legislative arms of both federal and states, to find solutions to the slow pace of progression of health insurance in Nigeria stating that the economic growth and security of the nation is surely tired to good Health. “We now have a strong collaboration with Health Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN). It is no longer a servant and master relationship but now we are partners in progress, which will go a long way in solving most problems comforting both of us, like adequate premium, capitation, fee for services, irregular or non payment, and discipline among members of both associations and many more,” he said.
He added: “We Healthcare Providers suggest that flagship programmes such as Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP) and Voluntary Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP) which can be spread faster by electronical means, a form of mobile health insurance. Public and Private Primary School Health Insurance Programme and State Health Insurance programme will equally accelerate the numbers of Nigerians covered by the Health Insurance Scheme.”Sanda noted that a corrupt free nation will achieve UHC within a short while if money allocated for health is spent truly on health.