Nigeria has a health insurance scheme called the National health insurance scheme (NHIS). This scheme is aimed at providing easy access to healthcare for all Nigerians at an affordable cost through various prepayment systems. However, a lot of people cannot boast of health insurance plans. The NHIS came into force in 2005 but the target of the scheme is yet to be achieved. According to various studies, the NHIS covers less than 10% of the Nigerian population, leaving the most vulnerable populations at the mercy of healthcare services that are not affordable.
Nigerians still don’t have access to good healthcare services and a lot of families are still under the financial hardship of huge medical bills. Out-of-pocket expenditure on health refers to direct payments made by individuals to healthcare providers at the time of service use. As at 2016, the National Health Accounts (NHA) reported that about 72% of the total health expenditure in the country emanated from the pockets of individuals/households. This shows that health insurance coverage in Nigeria is not effective. A lot of individuals do not have faith in the scheme; resulting from the ideology that health insurance companies are more profit-driven than they are service-oriented. In other cases, hospitals and healthcare providers usually accuse health insurance companies of defaulting in payment of incurred fees. The Nigerian health insurance system apparently needs a reform in earnest.
With an ineffective health insurance scheme, how can the country possibly achieve universal health coverage? What measures should be put in place to make the health insurance scheme more effective?