An insurance coverage for 83 poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premium is a major highlight of the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022, which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law on Thursday. The new law replaces the National Health Insurance Scheme Act, Cap N42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
While signing the law on Thursday, President Buhari said that a Fund would be set up “to ensure coverage of 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums as recommended by the Lancet Nigeria Commission”.
The President explained how the Fund would be sourced: “For the large number of vulnerable individuals who are not able to pay health insurance premiums, a Vulnerable Group Fund will be set up to include a component of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund due to the Authority, Health Insurance Levy, Special Intervention Fund, and any investment proceeds, donations and gifts to the Authority”.
He announced that the Authority would collaborate with each state government’s Health Insurance Schemes to accredit primary and secondary health facilities and enrol Nigerians into the scheme in order to ensure the delivery of quality health care.
The new Act also enables the Authority and state governments to develop information management systems and digital records for better data collection, monitoring and quality assurance.
President Buhari tasked the Health Reform Committee, which was inaugurated last January, to work with state governments, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Authority to ensure the implementation of the articles in the new Act.
The committee, which was set up last September, is headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with members drawn from government officials, development partners, the traditional institution, and civil society organisations.
At the virtual inauguration of the committee, Osinbajo said the current reality is that the Nigerian health sector still carries some critical challenges, which had resulted in poor outcomes, when compared with more developed jurisdictions of the world.
According to a statement by Laolu Akande, the Vice President’s spokesperson, Osinbajo said the government has the primary responsibility to address the issues “and to put in place the structures and arrangements necessary to boost the efficiency of the healthcare ecosystem, improve healthcare delivery, stem the brain-drain of our health personnel and reduce the pressure on our foreign reserves on account of medical tourism”.