Naira scarcity: Expert seeks enhanced health insurance

A general practitioner, Dr Tunji Akintade, has appealed to the federal and state governments to intensify efforts at increasing health insurance enrollees to ease citizen’s discomfort amid Naira scarcity.

Akintade, a former Chairman, Association of Nigerian Private Medical Practitioners (ANPMP), made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.

He noted that individuals without health insurance coverage put their physical, mental and financial health at risk.

According to him, health insurance enrollees will not be affected by challenges of Naira scarcity or e-payment channel failure while in the hospital.

”More people need to be aware about the importance of health insurance and key into it, especially now that cash is scarce.

”Insurance will ensure access, equitable distribution of healthcare costs and protect enrollees from the financial hardship of huge medical bills.

“Health insurance is the best way to safely navigate and cope with this current time,” he said.

Akintade noted that enrollees could choose premiums of either government or private health insurance schemes that suit that budget.

He said that coverage is associated with better health outcomes, lower death rates and improved productivity.

He said that many private hospitals have opened accounts with mobile money operator platforms apart from traditional banks to aid seamless financial transactions.

Similarly, Mrs Akudo Nwabueze, a businesswoman, said that the cashless policy and failed e-payment channel had worsened the morbidity of some patients.

”My husband was involved in an accident along Ikorodu road, after first aid treatment at a clinic, we got an ambulance to take him to the hospital, but the ambulance had a punctured tyre on the way.

”The driver didn’t have cash to fix the tyre as the spare had also run flat. I tried to withdraw money but PoS operators in the area said they had no cash.

”We eventually sought the nearest hospital for treatment which was promptly provided in spite of the challenge they had with my husband’s medical history.

”He has spent three days at the hospital, but treatment might stop because we’ve been unable to pay the medical bill as online banking transfer failed.

”I went to the bank, but the crowd was too much, I couldn’t enter until they closed. The stress is too much, there’s money in our account but I can’t access it to get treatment for my husband,” she said.

Also, Mr Stephen Badejo, a health economist, said that many people were advocating that physicians should uphold the Hippocratic Oath sworn to treat the ill to the best of their ability.

Badejo said that treating the ill to the best of one’s ability required health equipment, facilities, consumables, and support staff to save lives.

He noted that hospitals need funds to provide life-saving and quality healthcare services to citizens. (NAN)