Embracing a National Health Insurance programme

… as mortality rate increases by the day
…over 70% Nigeria workforce are unable to afford medical care

Virtually no day passes without authorities recording a case of someone misfortune in an accident; such occurrence either claim lives or leave irrecoverable scars on the victims, and their relatives. As much as no one wishes to be rendered incapacitated, they often come unannounced.

In July, at Ikotun, a suburb area of Lagos State, a man alleged to have been hit by a trailer, was found after three days, naked and helpless, with lacerations all over his body. In another incident witnessed, some time ago, a motorcyclist who was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver was left bleeding profusely with his jaw almost disengaged from his head. It took all the time in the world to get the men urgent medical care.

We cannot forget so soon the sad incidence which took place at a popular Lagos beach. A post graduate student, Funmi Odusina, in the company of her friends, got drowned at the beach. Though rescued alive, she was rejected by some private hospitals. While commuting her to the Lagos Island hospital, she gave up.

Back in 2015, the unfortunate news of a 300 level Accounting student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Lagos, Oluchi Anekwe, who was electrocuted outside the University campus hit the media. The loss could have been avoided if adequate health and safety measures were in place. But the young lady could not access medical help on time.

Another victim, Grace Obinna, who was raped at her home in Ikorodu, was rejected by two private hospitals. While trying to get her to the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, she died on the way.

Clearly, this is what the evil day could bring.

Come to think of it, a good number of these victims could have been saved, but for “stupidity-in-principle” policies that make hospitals cautious of who they admit, especially private hospitals who do not run charity homes, but health institutions that need money to stay in business. They would rather that patients pay before service.

This demand for medical bill by medical outfits before attending to accident victims has contributed to the mounting loss of lives recorded in the nation: victims are deprived of adequate emergency response or treatment needed to overcome critical situations and further medical attention.
Healthcare provision is the right of everyone, irrespective of one’s social or economic status, and it is a need every Nigerian should enjoy and which is made available through the provision of health insurance.

Oxford dictionary define health insurance as insurance taken out to cover the cost of medical care.
Health insurance, for those who could afford it a selected few, is a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of an insured individual’s medical and surgical expenses. Depending on the type of health insurance coverage, the insured pays for the medical bill out of his/her pocket and is then reimbursed, or the insurer makes payments directly to the provider.

The benefits of health insurance are numerous. It’s all about saving for the unexpected – a day you might need an emergency care.
Embracing health insurance packages gives one access to good health care without undue financial burdens. This is why even health and insurance experts recommends the scheme as a way out to improve the country’s health sector. As in other nations, where health insurance is a key policy, according to them, it is a welcome development with many benefits.

However, in Nigeria, benefiting from the health insurance is a luxury that many people cannot afford. Experts have noted that the informal sector – artisans, petty traders, etc., who constitute about 60 to 70 per cent of the economy’s workforce are unable to afford health insurance, which has accounted for the high mortality rates witnessed in the country.

Dr. Akinola David, Medical Director, Davestar Hospital, defined health insurance as “a way of putting resources together whereby one is saving towards the rainy time-the time when it may be difficult financially and otherwise.”
According to him, with adequate insurance cover, the health of the individuals will be guaranteed.

Stating the benefits of health insurance, Akinola said, “Health Insurance is a good thing. The only challenge is the fact that it is only the working class that are benefiting from it. Insurance takes care of a large amount of your heath expenses, but you as an individual will pay a token. In that case, it is good, because there are times when you may not have money, you can still go to your chosen clinic and get medical care. Insurance is a good venturefor all individuals.”
Apart from making health insurance accessible for white collar workers…