The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government no longer has the resources to fund the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He said the government was seeking funding from the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide better health insurance coverage for Nigerians.
Osinbajo said this at a forum in Minneapolis, the United States, which was attended by Nigerians, according to a statement.
He said, “On improving the health budget at the state and federal levels, the focus is on trying to do the National Health Insurance because funding health care through budgeting has proved to be practically impossible. We simply do not have the resources; the states and the Federal Government cannot do enough.
“So, the National Health Insurance is a very basic part of it and we are currently working now with the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a proper National Health Insurance Scheme.”
Less than seven million out of over 180 million people in the country are covered by the NHIS and the majority of the enrollees are the Federal Government workers, according to the NHIS.
Specifically, about 75 per cent of the enrollees under the health insurance scheme are federal civil servants.
The health insurance for the federal civil servants is a customised health care package developed based on a 10 per cent contribution of their annual basic salaries by the government and five per cent contribution by individual enrollees.
According to the NHIS, the Federal Government has been developing programmes to break into the private sector as part of its efforts for universal health coverage, which will also include the informal sector.
It said the Federal Government had also been trying to encourage state governments to start their health insurance schemes/programmes, as part of plans to decentralise health insurance.
The NHIS was established to improve the health of all Nigerians and make the cost of health care affordable.
It has the mission to facilitate the financing of health care costs through pooling and judicious utilisation of financial resources; to provide financial risk protection and cost burden sharing for people against the high cost of healthcare, through various programmes prior to falling ill.
The NHIS said the objectives of the scheme were to ensure that every Nigerian could have access to good health care services and to protect families from the financial hardship of huge medical bills.
Experts say Nigeria still ranks high in mortality rates from avoidable deaths, which could have been greatly reduced through early diagnosis and treatment offered by a good health insurance scheme.