The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is to establish a National Catastrophic Fund to specifically address terminal ailments such as cancer, advanced heart disease, among others.
The Executive Secretary of the scheme, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, made the disclosure at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Sunday.
He said that the current contributions to the health insurance pool was insufficient to cater for some packages and programmes of the scheme.
He emphasised that if NHIS had enough funds, it would cover the treatment and management of cancer and other terminal diseases fully.
“But we will not leave our people to be afflicted. We are creating another initiative – the Catastrophic Fund, within the NHIS.
“Some international agencies have indicated willingness toward that and other partners like the World Bank trying to ensure that we establish the fund.
“So, when we have the contributions, we can move from limited coverage to advanced coverage, depending on how much is contributed into the fund.”
Sambo also said that the scheme was planning to invest its residual fund, saying: “if we are allowed to invest our money by the office of the accountant general, we will be able to get more funds.
“We cannot say that we have enough funds when we cannot cover cancer; it doesn’t add up.
“If you go by our own conservative calculations as to our mandate of covering 200 million Nigerians and if you are to look at the basic payment under Group Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP) which is N15,000 per annum, we cannot cover everything.
“Multiplying N15, 000 by 200, 000,000 people will amount to N3 trillion to cover the entire Nigeria; which means we need about N3 trillion at the rate of N15,000 per head to cover the entire nation.
“We certainly do not have enough funds, but we are thinking of innovative financing mechanisms.”
The NHIS chief reiterated the determination of the organisation to generate more funds to health insurance coffers for the coverage of all Nigerians.
Sambo told NAN that the GIFSHIP would allow more people to benefit from health insurance, adding that the scheme had other initiatives for Nigerians.
He announced that plans to extend health insurance cover to the elderly and retirees had also reached advanced stage, noting that the move was to reduce out-of-pocket health expenditures on the people.
He noted that the reforms and initiatives embarked upon by the scheme was steering it toward the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), where Nigerians would access quality healthcare without financial hardship.
He explained that money contributed to the scheme was never a waste even if the enrollee did not fall sick.
He said “in insurance, the contributions of some enrollees would be spent on others even if the contributors didn’t go to hospital.
“So, the philosophy of insurance is that you contribute on the basis of solidarity; you have contributed but because you are well, the money would be used for others.
“That is the basic philosophy behind the NHIS system,” the executive secretary said. (NAN)