According to the Institute of Medicine, access is “the timely use of personal health services to achieve the best possible health outcomes”. This implies that people have access to healthcare when they needed it to improve their health status.
Having established this, there are two main components of access to health care. First is the ability to pay medical bills. Second is the availability of health workers and the necessary facilities that are vital for access.
Ability to pay for healthcare
High cost of care prevents people from getting the care that they need, as they cannot afford hospital bills. This means that people would rather just go to a patent medicine vendor to buy medicine and hope for recovery. In some other cases, they can only afford some of the services they require.
Health insurance schemes
Health insurance coverage is important for gaining access to healthcare and reducing the burden of medical bills. In recent times, developing countries like Nigeria have come up with health insurance schemes to ensure everybody can access healthcare.
These schemes come in various ways to suit user preference and convenience and to improve the rate of uptake. One important mechanism is the social health insurance scheme. This usually has a lot of public support as the government regulates it and anybody can join. However, there are members of the society who cannot afford this scheme, unless it is subsidized.
Due to this, health systems form community-based health insurance schemes to help low-income earners. Under this scheme, communities come together to pool money and pay off medical bills. Although the scheme is helpful, poorer people would still not be able to participate.
Price of health insurance improves access
There seems to be some form of hierarchy going on here. Nigerian citizens at different economic levels have different levels of access to healthcare. Obviously, the rich have the highest level and the best experience because they pay high insurance premiums. But even the poor should have at least a basic access, enough to keep them alive and disease free.
Lowering the price of health insurance through different strategies ensures people, even the poor, can use healthcare services when needed. In addition, insurtech companies help to find affordable premiums and create convenient payment plans to suit user preference.