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Health insurance bill scales second reading at the Senate

The bill for an act to repeal the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and enact the National Health Insurance Commission passed the second reading at the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill seeks to ensure a more effective implementation of a health insurance policy that enhances greater access to health care services by all Nigerians. It also seeks to promote and effectively regulate health insurance schemes in Nigeria.

In a debate, the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa (PDP-Delta), observed that there was the need to expand the scheme to cover wider segments of Nigerians. Okowa noted that the limited powers of the NHIS Governing Council rendered it incompetent to enforce the provisions of the NHIS act.

According to him, the bill is a product of several stakeholders’ engagements and input, with intent to ensuring a robust national health insurance system that will enhance universal coverage.

The informal sector, the poor and vulnerable and the rural communities across Nigeria, are largely uncovered by the NHIS.

He noted that there were “a number of private health insurance firms offering services to Nigerians in the private sector, which are not registered, supervised or regulated by the council.”