By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
The federal government has launched a group, individual, and family health insurance scheme for citizens.
The scheme tagged:”Group Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme,GIFSHIP, according to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, was a landmark achievement that will reshape the trajectory of healthcare financing in Nigeria.
The minister, who spoke at the launch of the programme in Abuja, Thursday, explained that it was 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. ”
To this end, the minister said “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.”
Ehanire, who described the scheme known simply as “GIFSHIP”, as a product of the lessons learned and the experience gained from implementing a previous programme, the Vital Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP),
“The programme we are gathered to present today, is the Group Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme, known simply as “GIFSHIP”, a product of the lessons learned and the experience gained from implementing a previous programme, the Vital Contributors Social Health Insurance Programme (VCSHIP),” he explained.
According to him, “This new programme addresses the challenges and barriers encountered during implementation of the VCSHIP, both by beneficiaries and operators.”
“GIFSHIP eliminates known difficulties as it creates additional value by expanding and upgrading VCSHIP for better reach, service quality and user experience,” he said, noting that: “Those who have closely followed the story of NHIS, will not fail to note that this is the benefit of the enabling environment for productive work, accruing from the peace and harmony that now reign there. ”
Noting that “NHIS has come of age and is rising up to the challenge of supporting the President’s Universal Health Coverage agenda with a transformative Reform Agenda”, the minister said,”Credit goes to the management of NHIS, under it’s new Chief Executive, Prof. Sambo, who is stewarding this key agency with remarkable dedication, to fulfill its mandate, which essentially is to provide financial access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians, in addition to providing regulatory governance for the health insurance sub-sector. ”
According to him,”The programme we are presenting here today is the outcome of wide-ranging and far-reaching reforms within the NHIS to significantly increase the fiscal space for healthcare services.”
“Worthy of note is the recent approval by the Federal Executive Council, of the e-NHIS Project, a robust ICT infrastructure to be developed and deployed to facilitate enrolee verification, access to care, data collection, and management. It will include analytics, which will feed into a disease map that will be of great benefit in the management of public health across the nation,” he said.
He spoke further: “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.
“GIFSHIP offers citizens an opportunity to participate and benefit from health insurance.
“There is an opportunity for affordable individual enrolment, enrolment of a family unit or a group of people.
“Any of the enrolments can also be sponsored by well-meaning individuals, Trusts, or organizations.”
Explaining that: “The larger the pool of enrolees, the stronger the Insurance base will be”, the minister said: “The Basic healthcare provision fund will be dedicated to the poor and vulnerable as captured in our social register.”
“The data, financial and claims management will be assured with the secured electronic platform set up in collaboration with NIGCOMSAT and approved by the Federal Executive Council, that will issue each enrolee a personal e-card that allows him to access medical treatment anywhere in the country, while fully assuring privacy and data protection. There are options for basic cover and coverage upgrades,” he said.
While thanking those at the occasion for making time to share “this pivotal moment”, he charged them to “be advocates of GIFSHIP, and help spread the word that FMOH now has an omnibus enrolment platform within NHIS to backup health care cover for Nigerians, especially those not currently captured under any form of health insurance by an employer.”
Speaking earlier, Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, described the scheme as a “milestone in the evolution of the new NHIS driven by our ongoing reform which is focused on the actualization of the Presidential mandate to revitalize the scheme.”
Recalling that “NHIS was established about 20 years ago by Act 35 of 1999 now CAP N42 LFN 2004, with the mandate to ensure financial access to quality health services for all Nigerians through health insurance”, Prof Sambo explained that,”The Scheme started by pursuing this mandate with a number of models of health insurance, culminating in the commencement of the Formal Sector programme for federal civil servants and their dependants on the 6″ of June 2005.”
He spoke further: “Subsequently, NHIS developed other programmes which targeted different population segments with the aim of bringing them into a common pool.
“Constantly faced with the difficult task of rapidly expanding coverage to accommodate all Nigerians, especially the informal sector and the vulnerable populations, a strategy to decentralize the operations of health insurance to slates was agreed upon; consequently, the States have now developed their State Health Insurance Agencies.”
According to him, “In line with this vision of Mr. President, the NHIS is undergoing massive reforms through the three-point rebranding agenda.
“The Three-Point Rebranding Agenda is anchored on restoring a value system that will transform NHIS into a credible result-driven organization, engendering transparency and accountability in the entire operations of the Scheme, and accelerating the drive towards achieving universal access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians,” he explained.
He said: “Under these reforms, NHIS has now become a fairly peaceful organization; most of the operational, financial and administrative bottlenecks are fast being resolved, with new innovative programmes being introduced. ”
“Notable among these reforms efforts include: strengthening the NHIS State Offices, recovery of NHist trapped funds, reforming the financial management system of the organization, restoring the confidence of stakeholders, establishment of strategic infrastructural investment, automation of NHIS business processes and establishment of the concept of Health Insurance Under One Roof (HIUOR) as an enabling platform for coordination of all health insurance activities in Nigeria,” he further explained.