Has National Health Insurance Scheme been converted to govts revenue agency?
IT IS VERY unfortunate that populist policies in sane and sanitised countries which are brought into Nigeria have more often been grossly abused by government ostensibly for financial malfeasance and corruptive enrichments by the officials mandated to execute the laudable policies and programmes.
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is for the federal government workers while state governments, for example Anambra State tagged it “Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA). The original objective as obtained in civilised countries is to improve the ease of for people to access healthcare, in other words, to lessen the burden of spending by the middle class to afford adequate healthcare delivery.
Taking Anambra State for example, workers in both public and private sectors who want to be enrolled have their salaries deducted (N1,000 monthly) while private persons pay same into the bank account of ASHIA.
Sadly like every noble intention of government, officials deftly craft ways to exploit the system by creating loopholes to shortchange the registrants.
The originators of the populist scheme must have had in mind that there is a probability of over 60 per cent of the registrants not falling sick while 40 per cent might be going to the hospitals. On that score, the contributions of the 60 per cent people would cover the cost of drugs and medicaments of the 40 per cent people.
But what has been happening since the inception of ASHIA is that few low costing drugs are supposedly “covered” by the agency.
They are malaria, typhoid, joint pains and cough drugs, plus laboratory tests of malaria and typhoid and are dispensed ‘free’ by the designated hospitals. To the chagrin of the patients, the designated hospitals ask the patients to give them N1,000 or N500 before hanging over the packaged drugs to them. The nagging question is: What is the amount for?
The most heartbreaking of the ASHIA is that costly drugs and sundry medical like teeth wash, replacement of bad teeth, eye drugs and eye glass are not “covered” while patients are advised to purchase them or pay for the services either at the General hospitals and Teaching hospital.
More often, the unfortunate patients cannot not afford the cost of the supposed “expensive drugs”; some cost only N3,000; teeth wash costs only N7,550 at Odumegwu-Ojukwu Teaching Hospital. For eye drugs, some cost only N3,000 but ASHIA dodge to fund it.
At the Niger Optical eye hospital, this writer was pained as a woman’s eyes has deteriorated because she could not afford N50,000 or more for eye glass already prescribed for her since she could afford to purchase only the prescribed drugs. The staff told her that the deteriorating eyes was because she had not purchased the recommended eye glass and she was shedding tears because of poverty.
Anambra State Government, even other governments should be publishing the deductions from the registrants at the end of the year in addition to the disbursement to the designated hospitals so that the public will know the financial balance because as I said earlier, over 60 per cent of the registrants cannot be falling within the year and going by elements of probability, the population of the 60 per cent people and their deductions can cover all the cost of drugs and medicaments of the probable 40 per cent of people that go to hospitals within the year.
This is accountability, integrity and transparency in action. This is a challenge to the Anambra State government to avoid being accused of shortchanging the ASHIA registrants , creating loopholes for the management for financial malfeasance and leaving the ugly impression that the agency has become a revenue earner for the government ; of course which is not what it is meant for in sane and sanitised countries where the noble policy originated.
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