Nigeria : ‘Inadequate government policies fueling low health insurance penetration’

  • 01 June 2022 / News / 395 / Fares RAHAHLIA

Nigeria : ‘Inadequate government policies fueling low health insurance penetration’

Experts in the insurance sector have identified inadequate government policies as part of the reasons for the low adoption of health insurance in Nigeria.

Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer, Leadway Health, Dr. Tokunbo Ali, said health insurance penetration in Nigeria has remained at four per cent, driven by the public sector, which leaves a huge gap to be filled in collaboration with the private sector.

According to him, the first and most important thing to be considered in health insurance was the Income Act, which states that an employer of labour, who has over five employees, must take up a pension scheme for those employees, saying the same should be implemented in the health sector.

Ali stated this when he spoke with The Guardian at the sideline of an event to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of R-Jolad Hospital in Lagos, noting that all hands must be on deck to boost health insurance penetration and ensure proper healthcare funding.

Ali said: “Even though not properly implemented, the Labor Act says you must cover their medicals, so you could afford to give them a medical allowance. Insurance is literally the only way to fund health care. Without insurance, it would be a pain in the back.

“We must hold ourselves accountable, that’s the summary of what insurance does. HMOs who are doing things properly are only trying to hold themselves and the hospitals accountable. Let’s make sure we get value for every dime spent.”

Responding to questions on what the HMOs are doing to reduce the cost of accessing health insurance to boost adoption, Ali stated that a lot of HMOs were not making profits but only doing cash flow accounting, contrary to speculations in the public domain.

“Some people have concluded that we HMOs are in profit, but sincerely, there is no such thing because a lot of HMOs are doing cash flow accounting and are not in profit in any way. All the funds we take as premium, we pay out to hospitals and incur losses. So the question of reducing the cost is not within us, it’s not something we can handle.

“What HMO does is that whatever amount of money is collected as premium, about 80 to 90 per cent of it always goes into hospital bills, hospital administration and medical cost, leaving only 10 per cent or less that goes to administration and other things. So please discard rumours that HMOs are in profit,” he noted.

He added that the best thing the government could do was to reinforce the right policies, saying the private sector was willing to support and give more care to more people.

Remarking, the Founder of R-Jolad Hospital, Dr Funsho Oladipo, said the idea of the National Health Insurance (NHI) should be successful but not, noting that only about five per cent of the Nigerian population has access to health insurance.

He reiterated the firm’s commitment to making quality healthcare delivery affordable to the general public, especially the poor masses.