Poor Nigerians get new Health Policy

Acheme Jack, Kano

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The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has designed an insurance scheme targeted at footing hospital bills for the poor and vulnerable Nigerians with a yearly contributions of N15,000 only.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Professor Usman Yusuf said the idea behind the scheme was to get the rich to foot the hospital bills of the poor.

He stated this during the launching of seven health projects by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Gingiyu, Kano.

According to him, the Vital Contributors’ Social Health Insurance Programme (VC-SHIP) is a package designed specially to reach out to the informal sector.

 “There is this programme called Vital Contributors’ Social Health Insurance Programme (VC-SHIP), for N15, 000 yearly anybody can enjoy healthcare as I would. You pay N15, 000 a year, you can go to a hospital and they will send us a bill up to N300, 000 and NHIS will pay,” the NHIS boss said.

He said the agency would be able to do this because the Nigerian Government has put a large pool into the formal sector and the goal was to have a large economy upscale.

“The more people contribute into this and forget about the sentiment of I contribute but I probably will not use it, the better. The whole idea is for the healthy to pay for the sick; the strong to pay for the weak; and the young to pay for the aged.

“So, VC-SHIP is what we want to aggressively advocate and sell to people as part of our outreach for the informal sector

The Nigerian Government is now employing more people; but the informal sector is where the future is and that is where about 99 per cent of our people are. We will see how we will connect with the states and do the right thing for our people, ” Professor Usman explained.

He, however, admitted that the Scheme has committed a lot of mistakes in its effort to better the health of Nigerians.

We have not been holding ourselves accountable, that is number one. Number two, we have not been holding hospitals we give people’s money to accountable. Number three, we have not been holding HMOs we give people’s money to accountable. From now going forward we have decided to hold ourselves and others accountable.

 “In Abuja, what we have done in NHIS is that I have deployed Desk Officers to major hospitals in Abuja. They are there to act as advocates for patients. When our patients go to hospitals, and then they said no, your bills are not covered by NHIS, whereas it is, or they don’t get treated well, they go to this Desk Officers and complain to them and the Desk Officers go and advocate for them,” he added.

The Kano State Health Insurance Scheme has captured over 200,000 workers and their dependants for the commencement of the scheme and hope to raise the figure to 600,000 soon.

Lateefah Ibrahim