A medical doctor, Kayode Obembe, on Friday claimed that only four per cent of Nigerians were covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Obembe made the claim in Ibadan while delivering a lecture entitled, ‘‘The National Health Insurance Scheme – The Way Forward.’’ 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organised by the Oyo State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) as part of a one-day continuous medical education initiative. Obembe, who operates a Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO), called on the Federal Government to expand the scheme’s coverage through the improvement of the Community-Based Social Health Insurance Scheme. He said that this would improve health coverage in the country while ensuring quality and affordable health care delivery for all. “NHIS is not as elitist as people think because it is actually meant for the community.
“That is where there is 70 per cent of the Nigerian population. “Until we get these 70 per cent into the scheme, we would still be trailing behind in comparison to other countries in the world,’’ Obembe said. He added that the fiscal capacity for health, which was 15 percent of the national budget, had not been exhausted.

“If we roll that out to the community level, we can reach that 100 per cent coverage target by 2015,’’ he said. Obembe said that most of the beneficiaries presently included 99 per cent of government employees He, however, said that any potential enrollee, not part of the formal sector, could still benefit through the Voluntary Contributor Health Insurance Service. Obembe also commended the Federal Government for its support to the NHIS since its inception. “The implementation has been excellent.

“The accounts of the HMOs are audited regularly while the capitation to health providers has been paid on a monthly basis without default,’’ he said. He recommended that the NHIS should also cover treatment of life threatening diseases through government’s increase of premium. Obembe also urged all medical practitioners to have the wellbeing of patients at heart, arguing that their satisfaction remained the ultimate goal. NAN reports that the scheme, established under Act 35 of 1999 by the Federal Government, provides easy access to healthcare for Nigerians at affordable costs through various prepayment systems.