“Health is a human right. No one should get sick and die just because they are poor or because they cannot access the health services they need.”- Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General World Health Organization (WHO).
Nigeria’s first major step towards achieving financial risk protection in Universal Health Coverage was the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) under the act 35 of the 1999 constitution by the Federal Government “for the purpose of providing health insurance which shall entitle insured persons and their dependants the benefit of prescribed good quality and cost effective health services”, expressly quoting the act. At present, only about 5% of Nigerians have prepaid health care through social and voluntary private insurance. This discouraging statistic probably tells more on the inconsistency in the governance of the scheme, policy abortions and scandals but doesn’t negate the need for proper awareness on health insurance.
Coverage by the health insurance scheme allows one to receive the best medical care available without much strain on one’s finances. The plans offer protection against high medical costs and cover virtually all forms of hospitalization expenses. This means health care is offered as soon as the health problem arises with no worries whatsoever about financial strength. This single effect of buffering emergency health care may help to nip bad health conditions in the bud and prevent further deterioration of the individual’s health. One thing true with every disease is that the longer they stay, the greater the risk of varying complications.
Owning a health insurance policy and knowing that you will not be at the mercy of illness that will leave you physically and financially short can have a positive effect on work and family life, putting one in a better frame of mind and body to fulfill responsibilities at work and home more effectively. This might sound a bit farfetched, but health insurance might actually even be a factor in preventing illness. The lack of uncertainty in the affordability of health care is one less thing to bother about. One less thing to bother about means less mental strain which could in turn mean better health.
The health insurance scheme may also allow for institution of proper preventive measures such as vaccination, periodic check-ups, and screenings. Come to think of it, why not take advantage since they’re largely free? This singular act might even help to protect others in situations where a disease condition detected early is communicable by human to human interaction of any form. This comes alongside the direct benefit of preventing diseases to the individual covered under the scheme.
We all stand much to gain and very little to lose in embracing the health insurance scheme. Enrolment in the scheme is advocated for as this impacts health care positively, no doubt.