The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr. ‘Femi Thomas has stated that the National Mobile Health Insurance Programme (NMHIP) is a game changer that will revolutionize the industry and establish the Scheme as the heartbeat of the health sector.
He stated this at the launch of the pilot run of the Mobile Health Insurance Programme in Lagos recently.
Dr. Thomas said that the digitalization of the health insurance industry, which is currently being processed, is one of the latest initiatives to ease public access to the programmes of NHIS, as part of the overall focus on achieving and surpassing the presidential mandate of 30% coverage by 2015 and universal health coverage in the shortest time possible.
The programme, the Chief Executive noted, is in collaboration with a cross section of stakeholders, including Salt & Einstein MTS Ltd as Mobile Technology Aggregator, the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), the National Communications Commission (NCC), Health Maintenance Organisations (HMO) and Healthcare Facilities (HCF).
He said Mobile Health Insurance is a platform for the application of information technology in the operations of the NHIS, and it involves automatic online registration including choice of HCFs and HMOs.
The NHIS boss stated that modalities are in place to eliminate fraud in the process, by facilitating identification, using telephone numbers, NHIS number or thumb print, as the case may be, through a central Health Insurance Information Exchange that transmits all related transactions to relevant stakeholders.
The required equipment, which he said has been adapted to the local peculiarities of the people, is to be distributed free to over 7,000 accredited facilities nationwide when the programme is fully operational.
Thomas gave the assurance that the programme will leapfrog health insurance coverage, while eliminating the critical delays associated with operations in areas of registration, encounter data collection, referral, subsidy gap funding, monitoring and quality assurance.
Dr. Thomas hinted that an important component of this mobile scheme is what he described as ‘the Adoption Tree’, which provides opportunities for high net-worth individuals and leaders to pay for persons such as relations and vulnerable groups. This model, he said, would set the stage for subsidy gap funding for health insurance in the country.
The Chief Executive stressed that this initiative is designed to leverage on the mass penetration of the Mobile Telecoms Operators in the country, adding that the project is beginning with the MTN, while negotiations are already advanced with other MNOs to key into the programme.
He called on all stakeholders, as well as the media, to cooperate with the scheme by making all pilot implementation challenges known appropriately to NHIS, to aid the objective of eliminating errors and strengthening inherent weaknesses, preparatory to the National launch of the programme by Mr. President.
Speaking at the occasion, the Managing Director of MTN, Mr. Mike Ikpoki said that MTN is constantly looking for opportunities and means by which they can put their signature on relevant innovative products that actually benefit the lives of their customers.
Health, he said, is an area that his organization is particularly passionate about, while applauding the opportunity to work with reputable organizations like the NHIS and Salt & Einstein to come up with this laudable product.
He noted that MTN is extremely proud to be partners with a proactive government agency like the NHIS, towards the development of this unique solution for meeting the needs of Nigerians.
In a goodwill message at the flag off, the Chairman of Salts & Einstein MTS Ltd, Mr. Ernest Ndukwe stated that the unveiling of the National Mobile Health Insurance programme is the satisfactory outcome of a long journey of planning, technological development and liaison with various stakeholders.
However, he said that the real test of its success would be when Nigerians in their large numbers start enjoying healthcare services through the mobile health insurance programme, irrespective of their social class or economic status in the society.