Civil servants currently benefit from the scheme
The management of National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, says it is targeting 40 per cent of Nigerians for insurance coverage by 2015.
The chairman of NHIS governing council, Shem Zagbayi, said this in Uyo on Thursday in his speech at the opening ceremony of a two-day retreat for members of the council.
Mr. Zagbayi said that the retreat was necessary to enable the council plan how the set target would be achieved.
“As at today, we are not near eight per cent coverage of Nigerians in term of health insurance. This is why we are here to plan how to achieve the target, and if possible, surpass it,” Mr. Zagbayi said.
The chairman said that the retreat, being the first since the inauguration of the council, would be a brisk business.
Fielding questions from journalists after the opening ceremony, the Executive Secretary of NHIS governing council, Femi Thomas, said the council was determined to attain 17 per cent health insurance coverage for Nigerians by the end of this year.
Mr. Thomas said he was optimistic that by the end of 2015, it would surpass the 40 per cent target. He explained that the major challenge of health insurance scheme in the country was the voluntary nature of its operation.
“The biggest challenge is that the national health insurance is optional, so it is a matter of moral persuasion,” Mr. Thomas said.
He said that if the scheme were compulsory, many Nigerians would have enrolled in the scheme.
Mr. Thomas disclosed that currently, civil servants, who enrolled in the scheme since 2006, were enjoying the scheme free.
“Nobody is paying a kobo, the 10 per cent contribution from the Federal Government is what NHIS is using up till date to run services,” Mr. Thomas explained.
He said that though no civil servant was paying as at now, the initial contribution from the enrollee to the scheme, had been reduced from five to 1.75 per cent.
NHIS is Nigeria’s social insurance programme, committed to securing universal coverage and access to adequate and affordable healthcare for all.