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Government starts health insurance scheme for uninsured Nigerians


The federal government has launched a health insurance scheme for Nigerians who are not insured by their employers.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, launched the Group Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP) on Thursday at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

He said the new programme will be added to packages being run by the Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Dignitaries at the event include Sani Aliyu, the national coordinator of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, and some former executive secretaries of the NHIS, including Mohammed Dogo.

Mr Ehanire said GIFSHIP will reshape healthcare financing in Nigeria.

He described it as the ministry’s “omnibus enrolment platform within the National Health Insurance Scheme to backup health care cover for Nigerians, especially those not currently captured under any form of health insurance by an employer.

“I, therefore, invite members of the polity, philanthropists, Nigerians in the diaspora, among others, to take advantage of this fantastic option to provide healthcare coverage for their families, communities, clans and enroll members of their constituencies, loved ones and relations, thereby giving them financial access to comprehensive quality healthcare at the point of need,” he said.

Experts say 70 per cent of Nigerians pay out-of-pocket for health care, even though the NHIS has been in existence since 2005.

The scheme, which is meant to reduce out-of-pocket spending on health care by Nigerians, has been made ineffective by leadership crises, corruption and legal, political and technical encumbrances.

NHIS now covers only about five per cent of the population, mostly civil servants who still complain of poor service delivery by the scheme.

Many states also have State Health Insurance Scheme (SHIS) but they are also dogged by multiple challenges.

Some experts said health insurance will also not work in states without proper implementation plans.

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GIFSHIP is designed to give specific and easy coverage to Nigerians not targeted in other insurance packages.

Mr Ehanire said the project was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council. He said the scheme will involve a robust ICT infrastructure to be developed and deployed to facilitate enrolee verification, access to care, data collection and management.

He said GIFSHIP will include analytics, which will feed into a disease map that will be of great benefit in management of public health across the nation.

Mr Ehanire said “this comprehensive ICT profile will be deployed to facilitate the implementation of GIFSHIP, among other activities of NHIS, and give subscribers easier access to service and more value for money that will support their health-seeking endeavours.

“A major objective of GIFSHIP is to rapidly expand the scope of healthcare coverage in our urgent quest to attain Universal Health Coverage, for which we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”

On the benefits of the programme, the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Sambo Muhammed, said GIFSHIP will enable individuals and families to join the national health insurance system.

“This programme will enable individuals, families and groups to join the NHIS ecosystem. Some of the appealing features of this programme are: the inbuilt mechanisms to guard against moral hazard, adverse selection as well as allowing room for organizations, political office holders, donor agencies, multinational corporations, philanthropists and people in diaspora to contribute their quota towards the attainment of UHC.”

The official said GIFSHIP will leverage on an e-NHIS framework recently approved by the FEC and which would be deployed in a few months.

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