Twelve years after its launch, Nigeria’s universal health coverage initiative, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is performing far below expectation as it provides coverage for a paltry 1 percent Nigerians.
The chief executive officer of the scheme, Usman Yusuf made this known at the Health Watch Forum which took place on Thursday 20th, April 2017, in Abuja.
Usman Yusuf, who was appointed in July 2016 by President Buhari, noted that part of the blame for the low coverage would go to the financial structure of the NHIS which he inherited from Olufemi Akingbade.
“NHIS finance is so opaque. We have monies and accounts in banks no one knows about. At NHIS, millions of naira in contract is given without proper documentation,” Yusuf said.
He also noted that Health Management Organisations (HMOs) also posed a major challenge in sanitizing the system and enabling a clear growth path.
He has asked HMOs to repay all unused monies for patients by December 2016. He also noted that they have recovered 95% of the misused funds.
“HMOs have been padding enrolees. An HMO owes NHIS over N300 million. I need you to give covering fire, as corruption fights back. I need your help and support,” He said.
Yusuf noted that The National Health Insurance Scheme has expelled 23,000 fake enrolees from the scheme in the past three months, stating that those numbers were infused into the scheme by the Health Maintenance Organisation to increase the number of enrolees due to selfish gains among others and before the discovery, the scheme has been paying N1, 000 in 23,000 places monthly.
According to him, “It is only through biometrics we can sanitise the system. We will commence the biometric capturing as soon as the budget and our ICT department are ready; we are going to get our biometric machines in all hospitals. My mandate is to make NHIS work for all Nigerians; the fund is not from Federal Government capital allocation but voluntary contributions by Nigerians and those who pay into the pool. I have been handed over to HMOs as CEO, but what do they have to offer? They are the problem of NHIS.” Said Yusuf