Health managers in Nigeria have called on President Mohammadu Buhari to assent to the National Health Insurance Commission bill, which they believe will strengthen the health sector in terms of providing quality healthcare for a large number of the population and with spread out payments.
Industry experts, under the auspices of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN), observe that when the bill is passed, it would galvanise the sector and increase health insurance coverage in the country.
They observe that if passed,the bill will make the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) work as the only regulator. It will also make it compulsory for all employers of up to five people and above to ensure that their staff and families have health insurance.
Kolawole Ajao Owoka, chairman, HMCAN, the umbrella body of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) in Nigeria, observes it is vital that policy makers interface with associations such as theirs, which has 70 percent of market share in the health sector.
“As health operators in Nigeria, we want the best for the industry, especially as it concerns global best practices, Owoka says, adding that at the moment, there is no developing country that is not in one form of health policy or another, and Nigeria cannot be an exception.
“It is quite strange that a lot of Nigerians don’t really understand the concept of HMOs and how it works. This concept deals with health maintenance. But it is sad to note that a lot of doctors dwell on the curative aspect. But that time is gone, we are out to look at a preventive approach to health maintenance,” he says.
The chairman, who led other executives of the association to BusinessDay headquarters in Lagos, says the health of the people must be delibrately planned for and not left to chance.
Frank Aigbogun, publisher, BusinessDay newspaper, on his part, pledges the support of the company to help the course of the association, pointing out that health-care financing is a critical area the country needs to look at.