BY ZAKA KHALIQ, Lagos
No fewer than 190 million Nigerians have shunned health insurance schemes in the country, operators in the insurance industry have said.
This figure leaves only 10 million Nigerians out of the estimated 200 million people with health insurance schemes.
This translates to about 5 per cent health insurance coverage, leaving about 95 per cent of the populace paying out-of-pocket for health care services.
Nigeria enacted a law on health insurance coverage in 1999 and 21 years after, health insurance penetration is still abysmal, a development experts advised must be quickly addressed to allow more Nigerians access to quality and affordable health care.
However, the low health insurance coverage is the result of the negative perception of Nigerians about insurance services as well as the inferior services most health management organisations offer, the experts said.
Speaking at the launch of Leadway Health Limited, in Lagos at the weekend, the managing director/chief executive officer of the new health management organisation (HMO), Mr. Tokunbo Alli, said though the general insurance apathy could be attributable to the low health insurance penetration, he equally linked the development to poor services being provided to policyholders by some of the existing HMOs.
He stressed that a huge 190 million people are paying out-of-pocket for healthcare services and lamented that the country is lagging behind in universal health coverage when compared with neighbouring country, Ghana that has 16 per cent health insurance penetration.
“According to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), more than 190 million Nigerians are still paying out-of-pocket to access medical services, forcing individuals, businesses and households to incur enormous and usually unplanned health expenditures. This is an unnecessary, unsustainable and costly means of accessing quality healthcare services,” he said.
To this end, he promised that his new HMO has come as a disruptor in the health insurance space, promising to lift national health coverage from the current 5 per cent to 30 per cent in the next five to 10 years.
“With the introduction of Leadway Health Limited, our range of solutions would help bridge the gap in providing quality, accessible and affordable health services to Nigerians. We are confident in a healthcare system that genuinely cares for your health, your wealth and more.
“With nationwide coverage and seamless healthcare service on-the-go backed by a high-tech Artificial Intelligence (AI) application and quality customer service delivery, there is no doubt that our customers are assured of disruptive healthcare services and an exceptional delivery experience,” he added.
Currently, he said the company which started operation in January, 2021, has partnered about 2,000 hospitals nationwide, while it is currently providing health coverage to about 20,000 lives, 40 corporate clients.
He further said that unlike the capitation method being adopted by some HMOs, Leadway Health is adopting fee-for-services, which has improved the quality of services its customers are getting from partner hospitals.
Highlighting reasons for apathy to health insurance scheme, the head, business development & sales, Leadway Health, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ogunmoyole, attributed it to difficulties in accessing quality health care services through HMOs, stating that most referred patients from HMOs suffer delays in hospital and are offered inferior drugs, a weak point, she assured, Leadway Health has worked on.