By Asma’u Ahmad
The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) says it is adopting biometric registration and auditing of enrollees to ensure transparency and accountability in the scheme. Executive Secretary of the scheme, Professor Usman Yusuf revealed this on Thursday in Abuja.
He spoke at the Health Watch forum organised by the Nigeria Health Watch, an NGO, with the theme “Does leadership matters? According to him, NHIS has expelled 23,000 ghost enrollees from the scheme in the past three months.
Prof. Yusuf noted that those numbers were infused into the scheme by the Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) to increase the number of enrollees due to selfish gains, among others. The scribe revealed that N1, 000 was being paid in 23,000 places or N23 million monthly before the scheme discovered the scam, describing the money as ours.
However, he assured that the scheme would soon commence the biometric auditing to further sanitise the system. The NHIS boss says the scheme has the potential to change the life of the populace for better “be you rich, poor, aged or vulnerable in the society, among others.” He expressed displeasure over the meagre resources allocated to the scheme, which he described as a subsidy to the HMOs.
The executive secretary noted that HMOs were the problem of NHIS, saying that after giving them money three months ahead to pay for enrollees and their families healthcare services they (HMOs) found it difficult to release such monies to hospitals.
“Our patients ordinarily are supposed to be treated with dignity and respect, but due to failure of HMOs to pay hospitals for services rendered they are been denied such, thereby compounding their health challenges.
“HMOs have been padding and increasing the number of false enrollees, the basis for what we have been paying them. The only way to flush this out is through biometric verification. The new ICT team constituted by the scheme in three months has expelled 23,000 ghost enrollees,” he said.
The executive secretary restated his resolve to deepen accountability, increase coverage of Nigerians in the scheme and exploring more creative ways of financing health system, among others.
Newsmen report that the forum is geared toward giving some heads of health institutions opportunity to enlighten health sector and the public on their plans to boost the country’s health system. Others who featured at the forum are the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, and the Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.