If you are like me, you have only heard of NHIS but you have not really benefited from the scheme. However, if you work for the Federal Government of Nigeria, you know a percentage of your monthly salary goes to health insurance. For most young people, their primary contact with NHIS is through TISHIP (Tertiary Institution Social Health Insurance Programme).
So, what exactly is NHIS? NHIS is an acronym that stands for “National Health Insurance Scheme.” The scheme was established under Act 35 of 1999 by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Ultimately, the aim of this scheme is to ensure easy access to healthcare for all Nigerians at an affordable cost through various prepayment systems.
The NHIS has quite a thorny history. Back in 1962, the then Federal Minister of Health, Dr. M. A. Majekodunmi, proposed the idea for a National Health Insurance Scheme in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the Nigeria Medical Association put up a stiff opposition. In 1988, another Minister of Health, Prof. Ransome-Kuti raised the idea again. This effort resulted into the Eronini Report. Consequently, this report became the template on which the present NHIS is built. Due to lack of political will and inter-professional rivalry within the ranks of stakeholders, the birth of NHIS experienced a delay. Finally, in 1999, the NHIS was passed into law under Act 35 of the 1999 constitution. However, the NHIS was only flagged off officially in June 2005. This was after a lot of pressure from the private sector and the concerted efforts of another Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo.
Objectives of the Scheme
Why was NHIS established, one may ask? The objectives of the NHIS is to:
- Ensure that every Nigerian has access to good health care services.
- Protect families from the financial hardship of huge medical bills.
- Limit the rise in the cost of health care services.
- Ensure equitable distribution of health care costs among different income groups.
- Maintain high standards of health care delivery services within the Scheme.
- Ensure efficiency in health care services.
- Improve and harness private sector participation in the provision of health care services.
- Ensure equitable distribution of health facilities within the Federation.
- Guarantee appropriate patronage of all levels of health care.
- Ensure the availability of funds to the health sector for improved services.
In conclusion, the scheme has been segmented to cater for different segments of the society to ensure that the programme reaches all and sundry. As a result, under NHIS, there are programmes for the formal sector, informal sector and vulnerable groups like pregnant women, children under the age of five and Prison inmates.
Lastly, in subsequent posts, we would be looking at more interesting facts about the NHIS. Stay Healthy!!!