• Friday, July 12, 2024
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LASHMA: We’ll not stifle private health insurance

Individual, family protection plans drive insurance growth

Emmanuella Zamba, permanent secretary, Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA) has said that the state will not stifle the businesses of private health insurance in its drive to achieve universal health coverage.

She said the objective is to work in partnership with health maintenance organisations (HMOs) to increase the uptake of social health insurance and that work is afoot to address the issues with the National Health Insurance Act 2022.

She also noted that the expansion of coverage among those in the informal sector, the vulnerable, and the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the main targets in its plan to deepen the penetration of Ilera-Eko, the state health scheme.

“We are allies and we are working in partnership. We are not here to stifle or repress the private health insurers. Rather we are supposed to complement each other because they provide health insurance for a different segment of the population,” Zamba said, speaking during the first health insurance summit convened by the state on Thursday.

It was themed “Accelerating Social Health Insurance Coverage in Lagos State: Domesticating the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act”

HMOs had earlier accused the agency of attempting to impose the Ilera-Eko scheme, placing a levy on premiums charged to enrollees.

Read also: Sanwo-Olu unbundles Lagos health sector

They also faulted LASHMA’s order that HMOs should move their clients in the organised private sector to the state’s scheme, despite an order to stay action on any regulation concerning private insurers until engagement and mutual consultations with all stakeholders are completed.

But the permanent secretary said the implementation of the NHIA Act 2022 is not an isolated event from the social health insurance scheme already being implemented through the Lagos State health scheme law, in her response to the claims.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state governor who was represented by Olusegun Ogboye, the permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health similarly said that his administration rode on the existing LSHS law to bring the promise of universal health coverage to reality.

He explained that the law makes it mandatory for all residents of Lagos to possess a health plan in order to have access to quality healthcare services, reducing out-of-pocket expenses on health and alleviating the financial hardship posed by huge medical bills.

Based on this, the governor urged critical stakeholders in the State health insurance value chain, including HMOs, healthcare providers, corporate organisations, policymakers, and employers of labour and employees to support LASHMA to domesticate the NHIA Act and also ensure compliance with the provision of the Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS) law.

“The domestication of the Act in Lagos State will enable the government to guarantee the provision of basic healthcare services to the citizens thereby improving their quality of life. To this end, I have issued an executive order for the commencement of the domestication of the NHIA Act and the implementation of LSHS,” Sanwo-Olu said.

“This will make it possible for the agency to engage with all key stakeholders and ensure that residents of Lagos State have access to quality and affordable healthcare services, thereby moving the state closer to the attainment of UHC.”

The Governor also officially unveiled the Ilera-Eko virtual booth at the summit as part of digital strategies geared towards promoting healthcare coverage in remote areas.

Read also: Lagos health insurance scheme kicks off 2018

About 300 Ilera-Eko virtual booths, an initiative of LASHMA in partnership with Sterling Bank, will be cited in key across all local government areas across the state.

It will be manned by community health workers or registered nurses and mapped to a healthcare provider in case of emergencies.

In addition, virtual access to doctors would be provided using telemedicine while prescriptions would be taken to the nearest community pharmacy where the medication will be dispensed.

For those who cannot afford the LSHS plan, the state has committed a minimum of one percent of the consolidated revenue fund as an equity fund to the Lagos State Health Fund (LASHEF) to provide coverage for vulnerable groups to purchase the Ilera-Eko plan on their behalf, Sanwo-Olu said.