More than 120 million Nigerians have to pay out-of-pocket when in need of medical services as they do not have any form of health insurance. Infact majority of those without medical insurance in the country can barely afford medical services.
There was a story of one Mr. Olu Hassan who lost the use of his limbs and currently begs for alms from passers-by at Oshodi Bridge in lagos because he was unable to quickly pay for medical services after being diagnosed with a disease of the arteries, veins, legs and arms.
Like Olu, there are countless others who may have gone through one health crises or the other due to the fact that they have no form of health insurance.
The Guardian research divulged that most people in Lagos know next to nothing about health insurance and are ignorant of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and how to get registered.
Their research revealed that 27 out of every 30 Lagosian have heard of health insurance while only 7 were actually insured. It further revealed the reasons why most Lagosians are not insured, which include: lack of job to maintain premium payment, disbelieving the authenticity of health insurance, thinking the protocol to get registered is quite complex and even outright ignorance of the existence of NHIS.
The National Health Insurance Scheme was established in 1999 through Decree 35 of the federal government of Nigeria. It was saddled with the task of providing quality healthcare at affordable rates to Nigerians.
Despite the fact that health insurance is one of the most easiest way to protect oneself against the risk of not being able to pay medical of when the need arises, people like Olu have been suffering for lack of proper healthcare ever since the establishment of the NHIS.
Dr. Tim Evans, a senior Director for the Health, Nutrition and Global Practice at the World Bank noted that health coverage is indispensable if the country is to put an end to poverty. He said that if the health of the masses is prioritized above their ability to pay, the country would grow.
Similarly, Executive Secretary of NHIS, Mr. Femi also stressed that every Nigerian have right to proper, timely, quality and affordable health care, anywhere, anytime.
Yet, Dr. Bayo Windapo, the Medical Director of Adedsola Clinic noted that majority of those involved in health insurance are government workers.
However, the Guardian research showed that the economy is the number one reason why people like Olu are unable to afford health insurance.
Fortunately, private insurance companies have created an insurance scheme that is affordable to the lower income earners such as the vulcanizers, traders, carpenters, mechanics, etc.
With this scheme, people can walk into any hospital during emergency and receive proper treatment without being scared of the medical bill rather than dying hopelessly on the street.
Medical Director for Maxi Eye Clinic, Ikeja, Lagos, Dr. Akinola Muyiwa said that since not everyone will have health issues, everyone should join so as to help take care of others.