By Adeola Badru
THE Oyo State Government has put plans in motion to commence house-to-house enrolment of communities in the state in a bid to encourage rural dwellers to buy into the state’s Health Insurance Scheme.
The Executive Secretary of the Oyo State Health Insurance Agency, OYSHIA, Dr. Sola Akande, disclosed this yesterday, in an interview with newsmen in Ibadan.
Dr. Akande revealed that the initiative, which had always been in the outline of the agency, was borne out of the fact that community-based health insurance is a flavour of the Oyo State Health Insurance Scheme and the Governor Seyi Makinde-led administration, as the governor recently flagged-off the initiative in the state.
He noted further: “Community basically means to go to meet them. We want to increase the uptake of the informal sector which is actually the core of health insurance and to be able to effectively do that we must devise a system in which people will have easy access without giving them much discomfort and one of the ways you can do that is to go meet them in their shops, houses or kiosks so that it will be convenient.”
The executive secretary revealed that many private companies, organisations, insurance companies, stand-alone bodies have indicated an interest in working with the state, having seen the much that has been achieved by OYSHIA in four years.
He that the Agency has concluded virtual and physical training for about 300 agents it needs to work with, so as to effectively consummate the community-based scheme.
Talking about the benefit of the package, Akande explained that the scheme still has the same premium of N8000 and benefits package of N3000 per annum, but is adopting a different style that would make it convenient for people in communities to enrol, by going to meet them at their locations and giving them the opportunity to pay in instalments and some level of assurance because most of the recruited agents are from the communities.
“Our target audience now is shifting from the elites, the formal sector people, to informal sector people, grassroots people, local people, because they need this scheme more than you and I.”
“This is because as long as you have a determined level of income you can still access care to an extent out of your pocket but informal sector people don’t have determined level of income and don’t even attempt to go to hospitals.”
Akande stated that the principle in OYSHIA is to start projects embarked on with few local government areas that are near the agency, so the projects could be easily monitored, before spreading to others, noting that, the same method was being adopted for the community-based scheme because the agency is not dealing with files but lives.
He said: “The agency is kick-starting the project with three local government areas, Ona Ara, Ibadan North and Akinyele as the pilots, depending on the number of agents trained. We always start our ideas on a gradual basis, we call it a pilot.”
“Even when we rolled out, we started with eleven Local Government areas in Ibadan. That helps because you are interacting with people and you have to be careful. The moment there is a problem of trust, you begin to de-market the scheme.”
The executive secretary affirmed that the house-to-house enrolment would ensure effective communication and increase in information dissemination and a number of enrollees, as the agency carries out regular accreditation exercise.
He assured that the agency would deploy facilities to LGAs based on the strength of enrolment, saying the minimum number of enrollees a private facility must have before it could be accredited is 5000, while that of public facilities is 3000.
To ensure accountability, Akande disclosed: “The agents have been instructed not to take cash, as much at it could be helped. However, each agent has a portfolio with the Agency that has been credited, by the agents, with a certain amount of cash such that if they were paid cash, they could deduct it from the cash in their portfolio.”
He added that a portfolio, which would record payments made, would also be opened for each enrollee paying in instalments but would not be activated until the full N8000 had been paid.