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Hope, joy for NHIS beneficiaries

By Bertram Nwannekanma
11 February 2015   |   4:53 pm
IT was tales of joy and hope for enrollees of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), who gathered at Yaba, Lagos on Monday to express how they were able to access quality health care services from the scheme and saved from being ripped off by the health providers.  The enrollees, who cut across social strata,…

Atinuke

IT was tales of joy and hope for enrollees of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), who gathered at Yaba, Lagos on Monday to express how they were able to access quality health care services from the scheme and saved from being ripped off by the health providers.

 The enrollees, who cut across social strata, were amazed that some thing good can still come out of the Nigerian system.

  From the academia, civil servants, police and journalists the story was that of joy and happiness. 

  To them, their experiences also represent a success story for a scheme, which enabling act – the Health Act – was signed into law by   President Goodluck Jonathan on December 9, 2014, thereby giving the NHIS the mandate to manage 50 per cent of the funds provided by the act. 

 Narrating her experience, Mrs. Ogunmeru Oluwabunmi Atinuke of Accounting Department, University of Lagos, said not only was she treated as a queen but also her request was met with dispatch.

 The NHIS enrollee, who could not hide her joy, told The Guardian that she had gone a step further to write a letter of appreciation and commendation to the Lagos zonal coordinator of the scheme.

She said: “ I thought that it is not only when there is complaint that I should write a letter, so, I decided to write to commend and appreciate the managers of the scheme in Lagos.

 According to her, I was stunned to learn from R. Jalad Hospital, Oworonsoki, Lagos, my health providers, that my NHIS covers only malaria treatment, when I had course to use the scheme last year. 

   “I was surprised at the report because it was not what I was told; and being the first time I am using the scheme, I quickly reported the case to the NHIS office at Yaba and soon things turned around for good.”      

   “When I got there, I was treated like a queen, they made a referral to LUTH, but LUTH was on strike then, which lasted for three months. So, I went to conduct the test at MECURE, Oshodi, and at the end of my treatment, N20, 000 was refunded to me by the hospital.

“I was surprised because I know there are rights in Nigeria but I never knew that those rights could be accessed without bribing someone or knowing anybody at the top. The response was so swift.”

  A porter at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Mr. Ojuekanmi Haruna, whose money was refunded by a health provider following the intervention of NHIS officials, was another testimony. 

  Narrating his experience, he said his health provider, Optimum Medical Centre Palmgrove, which made him to pay 50 per cent of the cost of drugs when his son was admitted at the hospital refunded him his money with apologies after officials of the NHIS intervened.

  Also, Mr. Christopher John of the Nigerian Police Force, whose wife delivered through Caesarean section at Gold Cross Hospital, said the Hospital authority has insisted his wife must pay N118, 000 but that when he complained to NHIS office, he was refunded the sum of N100, 000 by the hospital with apologies.

 Again, a staff of Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi, Mr. Oke Job Ejiro, shared his experiences:

  “About a year ago when my wife was a about to deliver, we decided, at last, to go to Lagoon Hospital after being assured by our HMOs that we were not going to pay anything.

  But at the hospital we were made to pay the sum of N20, 000 but the amount was later refunded to us by the hospital when we complained. 

 Ejiro, who was astonished with the swiftness with which the money was refunded, said he was surprised that the NHIS swiftly contacted the hospital and they (the hospital) paid him cash.

  Expressing joy that expectations of the enrollees were met, the Lagos Zonal coordinator of NHIS, Nasiru Ikharo gave assurance that the hospitals under the scheme were ready to comply.

 According to him, NHIS is determined to ensure universal health coverage for all Nigeria citizens by the year 2020.

   “Ensuring the health of Nigerians is key to meeting Vision 20-2020, since no economic growth could take place without a healthy nation,” he affirmed.

  To achieve this, Ikharo said the commitment of Nigerians is needed to ensure that the system is working and the health services must be affordable and available.  

   He praised Lagos state for coming out with a bill on compulsory health insurance scheme for Lagos residents, which, according to him, would be a giant leap in universal health coverage for Lagosians if eventually passed into law.