National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, has requested for the data of about 120 million mobile lines in the country to enable it accelerate the effectiveness of mobile health insurance in the country. This is even as the scheme blamed huge administrative charges and bureaucracy against identity managers as some of the reasons the pace of mobile health insurance in the country has been slow.
Acting Executive Secretary of the scheme, Femi Akingbade, said in Abuja recently while addressing journalists that mobile health insurance should have been more popular since it was launched in 2014, but for some logistic challenges arising from need for inter-agency collaboration and excessive administrative charges on mobile network operators.
Akingbade informed that should the NHIS get the data of registered phone users in the country, it would both promote the universal health coverage drive of the Federal Government and data capturing of everyone in the country. It would be recalled that the scheme had introduced some new programmes in the last two years to ensure all citizens enrol in the scheme.
NHIS believes two of the new programmes, mobile health and community health insurance, would have wider acceptability among the population, with the former expected to attract larger enrollees.
Addressing journalists, Akingbade said of the new push for the mobile health insurance: “One of the things that is happening is that we are having delivery failure because the stakeholders seem not to totally agree with the payments and fees that are coming to them based on the agreed distribution of the funds that are being contributed.
“This can be attributed to a lot of things because we found out that because of the MNOs, mobile network operators, that are involved, there are lots of government charges that they need to pay and a lot of the fees are going into administrative charges which we are trying to reduce.”
The mobile health insurance would require NHIS to tap into teledensity of nearly 120 million Nigerians registered on mobile networks as well link phone numbers to existing data already captured by operators during SIM card registration. But the data is warehoused by the Nigeria Communications Commission.
“We need to collaborate with the Nigerian Communication Commission, National Identity Management Corporation, Mobile Network Operators, and lots of other agencies that are into identity management and that actually slowed the process which we are actually working on,” said Akingbade.
NHIS access to the database would preclude it capturing fresh biometrics for any new enrolee of the mobile health insurance.
“One of the things that we are still trying to work on and implore NCC to do is to release that data base for us for access to those data as it saves us a lot in recreating the wheel.
“They have already done a biometric registration and they have the details of the people that own these phones. What we are now saying is that if somebody that owns a phone wants to register for NMHIP, please give me the data so that I don’t need to go ahead to start capturing a new biometric data,” explained Akingbade. We are working with NIMC on the harmonisation of the two data bases and also use the opportunity to help NIMC to register people,” he added.
He however noted that the scheme had not been optimally providing the mobile health insurance payments and fees coming to them from agreed distribution of funds following heavy administrative charges on the mobile network operators.
Meanwhile, the NHIS has pledged to reimburse persons already registered for mobile health insurance when they visit hospitals. 20 hospitals in Lagos State were chosen for the pilot.
But, Akingbade informed that people were complaining of the distance of the hospitals to where they live, and that patronage had been low.”
“But I’m sure that with time, we are going to do a national launch and all accredited facilities under the NHIS would be able to render service in the nearest future,” he assured.