Benjamin Okorie
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Tony Akowe, Abuja

 

ABOUT 14 years after its commencement, only about five per cent of Nigerians are still covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), with over N30 billion left in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unaccessed Chairman of the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Health Care Services and Health Institutions, Darlington Nwokocha, made this known during an investigative hearing on the activities of the NHIS Scheme in Abuja.

The House had ordered a holistic investigation into the activities of the NHIS, following complaints by stakeholders about the operations of the scheme.

Nwokocha said records from the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that less than five per cent of the country's population are covered under the scheme, leaving about 95 per cent of Nigerians uncovered.

He also said the House has so far received over 380 petitions from aggrieved Nigerians who were shabbily treated by some hospitals, who in turn accused Health Management Organisations (HMOs) of owing them huge sums of money after being paid in advance by the NHIS. Hon. Nwokocha said the public hearing was designed to analyse and address the challenges in NHIS operations and controversies among stakeholders in the health insurance sector.

He said: "The federal government in creating the NHIS designed it to encompass government employees, the organised private sector and the informal sector, including children under five, and people living with permanent disability and prison inmates…"

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The lawmaker stressed that sufficient evidence at the disposal of the committee indicates that the scheme, at the moment, is not serving the interest of the citizens.

"Consequently, it is needful to situate our experiences so far in the health insurance sector in a proper context. This will enable us interrogate if any of the three- NHIS, HMOs and health care providerscritical players in the current scheme have measured up to expectation.

"However, there is sufficent evidence to indicate that the current scenario has failed, and is only serving the interest of all others , except the Nigerian citizens.

"Perhaps, this explains why we as a parliament, individually and collectively ,have received over 380 petitions in our committees from aggrieved Nigerians, who were shabbily treated by some hospitals, who in turn accused HMOs of owing them huge sums of money after being paid in advance by the NHIS.

"It is also important to understand the complexities surrounding the take-off and implementation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, resulting in some states being left out, while there is over N30 billon at the CBN, yet to be accessed, from 2018".

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