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It’s an offence not to have health insurance coverage in Anambra – ASHIA

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ANAMBRA State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) has said that it is an offence for any citizen not to have health insurance coverage as stipulated in the Anambra State Health Insurance Law of 2016.

   Disclosing this to our correspondent in his office in Awka, the managing director and chief executive officer of the state health insurance agency, Simeon Beluonwu Onyemaechi, said the state health insurance law has come into force following the advent of the National Health Insurance Authority Law which replaced the National Health Insurance Scheme.

   Dr. Onyemaechi said it was of paramount importance to underscore the fact that the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme Law of 2016, made health insurance mandatory for every resident of Anambra State. He said the implication therefore is that anybody who resides in Anambra State and does not have health insurance cover with ASHIA is an offender.

   He therefore explained that anybody resident in the state and is not registered with the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme is an offender of the law that established the state health insurance scheme. According to him, the law is clear that the scheme shall be mandatory for every Anambra citizen residing in the state.

   Although he said the law was not enforced due to the National Health Insurance Law of 2004 which made health insurance a voluntary scheme for the citizenry, the development according to him hampered the enforcement of the Anambra State Health Insurance Law because the federal law prevailed.

   But recent developments, according to him, have shown that in May this year, President Mohammadu Buhari signed the National Health Insurance Authority Law which he said repealed the National Health Insurance Scheme Law of 2004; that currently in Nigeria, there is no entity called the National Health Insurance Scheme.

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    Onyemaechi further disclosed that the new National Health Insurance Authority Law of 2022 has repealed NHIS and replaced it with National Health Insurance Authority for Nigeria, adding that the new law has made health insurance mandatory for every resident of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.     

   The ASHIA boss stated that the Anambra State Health Insurance Law of 2016 could henceforth be enforced beginning from 28th May, 2022, when the National Health Insurance Authority Law was gazetted.He said  as it stands at the moment in Nigeria , health insurance is compulsory for every legal resident. 

   He said that the first pillar of the health agenda of Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo is to attain universal health coverage, adding that globally, social health insurance is a sure vehicle for the attainment of universal health coverage through compulsory health insurance and that the National Health Insurance Authority Law came into being to end the era of cash and carry health system where people will take their money to health facilities for out-of-pocket expenses.

   Onyemaechi believes therefore that health insurance enables one to seek healthcare whenever the need arises and that people no longer need to carry a lot of money to hospitals to access medical care, stressing that beneficiaries of the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme paid only 10% of the total cost of medical bills.

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