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7 months after: Stakeholders want NHIA Act 2022 in operation

Stakeholders in the health sector have observed that the new National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2022, which was signed into law in May, is…

Stakeholders in the health sector have observed that the new National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2022, which was signed into law in May, is yet to be operationalised.

They, however, said all hands must be on deck to, not only understand and interpret the spirit and letter of the new act, but operationalise it for the benefit of all Nigerians by bringing more people into the health insurance system.

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This emerged at the weekend during the annual general meeting and induction ceremony of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigeria (HMCAN) and the Institute for Healthcare Finance and Management Ltd (IHFM).

With only 5.7 million enrollees since 1999, when the health insurance system was born, the new act has the potential to drastically increase the figure if it is optimally operationalised, it was observed.

Chairman of HMCAN, Dr Leke Oshunniyi, said stakeholders must come together to leverage on the new law to increase enrollees and tackle the teething problems in the operation of the health insurance system.

He said, “As a body, we have obtained a legal opinion on the new Act. How should the law be interpreted, and what does it portend? The regulators are also unsure of how to interpret it.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that we interpret it in a way that is favourable. As operators, we understand it better than other people. In Lagos alone, we are facing 32 million potential enrollees.”

Oshunniyi stated that the industry has the capacity to grow five-fold if all hands are on deck to make the law operational.

He said, “The NHIA Act was passed on the 19th of May, 2022. Since then, the industry has been rallying to prepare the guidelines which would operationalise this important statute.

“So, this new law, clause by clause, we will look at it and decide on how best we can make it work, otherwise, there will be no consistency. All the component parts will be interpreting the law to suit themselves; it’s better we sit together to prepare these guidelines and, like I said, the leadership of the NHIA has assured us that this will be something that all stakeholders in the industry will be called together.

“We expect that will be anytime from now and we will begin the process of articulating these guidelines.”

In his keynote address, the MD/CEO, Deni Health Services Ltd, Mr Tosin Awosika, who spoke on ‘The National Health Insurance Authority Act 2022: The Mandatory Nature of Health Insurance and Prospects for HMOs’, said while the new law gives more power to state authorities, the HMOs can collaborate with states to serve their enrollees.

He noted that the HMOs have restricted themselves to the former sector which has made it difficult to reach the desired number of enrollees.