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No ambiguity under NHIA Act’s well-structured regulatory functions–NHIS

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The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has described the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2021 recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as a significant moment for all players in the Nigerian health insurance industry.

Dr Omolayo Taiwo, Head, Health Insurance Department (States), Ado-Ekiti, made this known in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday.

Taiwo said that the players included the Agency, the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), the enrollees and even the healthcare providers.

He explained that every player in the authority had its roles and responsibilities well defined without any ambiguity under the Act, with the well-structured regulatory functions of the agency under its
present innovative leadership.

According to him, implementing the Act will not be difficult, as all the stakeholders are ready and willing as the regulatory authority is effective and up to the task too.

He assured Nigerians of the NHIS preparedness to ensure the full implementation of the new Act to provide adequate health coverage for all Nigerians and safeguard the nation.

Taiwo said that the dearth of data for planning was a major problem in most sectors of the Nigeria’s enterprises, especially, the health sector.

He said that lack of uniformed data had also remained a choke on the wheel of progress of governments at various levels, thereby hindering provision of adequate, effective, affordable and efficient health care
services.

According to him, under the Act, electronic data management is a key component.

He said as a way out, the new Act had enabled the authority and state governments to develop information management systems and digital records for better data collection, monitoring and quality assurance.

“As a healthcare provider under this Act, I am aware that the agency has organised a number of stakeholders forum during which the implementation of electronic data management was discussed.

“This is to ensure accurate data entry even from the end user.

“ I am also aware of the collaboration between the NHIA and other data management agencies of government for the success of this programme,” he said.

Taiwo maintained that the Nigerian people were the greatest beneficiary of the Act because of its robust provisions for every sector of the Nigerian life.

“Firstly, the multifaceted nature of the authority solves the problem of inclusion; everyone will be captured by one authority or the other.

“The children, students, the formal and informal sector, the elderly and even the indigents are provided for under this Act,’’ he said.

Taiwo also explained that adequate provision was made within the Act to ensure continuous supply of funds to subsidise the vulnerable and sponsor the indigent in the society.

“The other one is the standardisation of the minimum acceptable quality of coverage for all health insurance schemes in Nigeria.

“This means that the minimum acceptable coverage by federal, state or private health insurance schemes will be standardised nationally. This will really improve the standard of healthcare in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Taiwo said it had become imperative in line with the President under the new law to work with state government’s health insurance authority.

This, he said, would be done by empowering them to accredit primary and secondary healthcare facilities and ensure the enrollment of Nigerians.

He said that with the advent of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund and under the Act, the state governments were required to run an health insurance scheme or do so through a third party.

“And with health being on the concurrent list of the Nigerian constitution, collaboration between the state and the national authority will always be pivotal to the success of this Act.

“This is adequately provided for by this Act, besides, the agency regulates all insurance schemes in the country and this includes the state health insurance schemes,” he said.

The official said that the relationship was not just that of a regulator, as strong collaboration was being fostered between these agencies of government.

“You may be aware that one of the policies thrust of the NHIA is what is called ‘Health Insurance Under One roof’.

“This is targeted at ensuring strong collaborations between the state and the federal agencies,’’ Taiwo told NAN.

He said that the HMOs, among other things have the responsibility to ensure quality assurance by the healthcare facilities.

Taiwo said as a result of the positive impact on the nation, a solid framework was being put in place for the HMOs for effective implementation of the new health Act.

According to him, the framework will impact positively on the lives of the citizens and access quality healthcare services.

“It will ensure that the enrollees enjoy the best of care, also ensure that the hospitals get appropriate and timely payment on services rendered.

“On some occasions, they may help with premium collections. Basically, they ensure smooth running between the hospitals and the agency. They are quite vital,” he said.

Taiwo said that the success of the scheme was not a lone job as Buhari had tasked the Health Reform Committee to work with state governments.

Others, he said were the Ministry of Health and the National Health Insurance Authority to ensure the implementation of the articles in the new Act.

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