The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, has made a call for mandatory health insurance for all Nigerians, regardless of their social status.
The Senate announced this during a public hearing on a bill for an Act to repeal the National Health Insurance Scheme Act 2004, which provides that health insurance is optional, and for the enactment of the National Health Insurance Commission Bill.
According to Oloriegbe, health insurance must be made mandatory and must provide subsidized premium payments to the poor.
“The uncertainty of disease or illness has made it necessary for the need of insurance and its works on certain fundamental principles – the principle of cross-subsidization and solidarity where the rich support the poor, the well support the sick and the ‘haves’ support the ‘have nots’.
“This can only be achieved through making insurance mandatory and subsidization for those unable to afford insurance premiums,” he said.
He disclosed that the current regression in the efforts of the government to reduce maternal mortality is one of the reasons for the decision to mandate health insurance, as about 900,000 maternal and child mortalities were recorded each year.
“Neither is it surprising that Nigeria contributes 13 per cent of all under-five deaths globally, again second only to India at 21 per cent.
“This is not acceptable and we need to begin to reverse this trend. It is now clear that the need for healthcare reforms is very necessary,” he added.