Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022.
Mr Buhari, who disclosed this on his Twitter handle at exactly 5:04 p.m on Thursday, said the development is part of his administration’s efforts to ensure health coverage for Nigerians.
He said the new bill repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act which has been in existence since 2004.
“As part of our healthcare reforms, I have signed into law the recently passed National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022, which repeals the National Health Insurance Scheme Act. We will ensure the full implementation of the new Act, to provide coverage for all Nigerians,” he said.
He said the new National Health Insurance Authority will collaborate with state government health insurance schemes to accredit primary and secondary healthcare facilities and ensure the enrollment of Nigerians.
The chairman of the country’s Senate committee on health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, has consistently advocated the signing of the bill into law since it was passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
According to Mr Oloriegbe, who represents Kwara Central in the upper legislative chamber, the new bill makes health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians.
Health Insurance scheme
To reduce huge out-of-pocket spending for health services, which often leaves average and vulnerable Nigerians in penury, the government established the NHIS in 2004.
Despite billions pumped into the scheme since its inception 18 years ago, millions of Nigerians still lack access to quality healthcare services.
About eight out of 10 Nigerians do not have health insurance cover in Africa’s largest economy, according to a 2021 survey by NOI Polls.
The few persons enrolled in the scheme complain of inadequate service delivery. They say the scheme fails to cover key treatments for serious ailments such as cancer which is very expensive and has left many patients and their families with no option than to sell properties to raise funds.
The health insurance scheme is one mostly described as fraudulent and an agency that lacks transparency and accountability. As of 2018, two past heads of the agency were accused of fraud.
Vulnerable group fund
Meanwhile, in a statement subsequently issued by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari said a fund will be set up to ensure coverage of 83 million Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission.
He said the “vulnerable group fund” will be financed through the basic health care provision fund, health insurance levy, special intervention fund, as well as any investment proceeds, donations, and gifts to the authority.
He said this will cover the large number of vulnerable individuals who are not able to pay health insurance premiums.
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