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National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)

FG to Review Medicine Tariffs Amid Rising Medical Inflation – NHIA DG

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says it is set to review its medicine tariffs in response to the significant rise in medical inflation in the past few months.

Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, NHIA Director-General (DG) and Chief Executive Officer, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

Ohiri said the initiative was part of a broader strategy to ensure the affordability, quality and sustainability of medicines under the national health insurance programme.

He explained that the review process began with a comprehensive meeting involving nearly one hundred stakeholders from the various sectors of the health industry.

According to him, the stakeholders include practitioners, government representatives, hospitals, pharmacists, dentists and health maintenance organisations (HMOs).

“The aim is to address one of the critical barriers to accessing high-quality healthcare, which is the cost of medicines,” he said.

He added that the authority’s proactive measure reflected its dedication to improving healthcare access and affordability for all citizens.

He said that with continued stakeholder engagement and strategic financial disbursements, NHIA was poised to enhance the national health insurance programme and support the health and well-being of Nigerians.

In addition, the DG said the authority had launched a medicine initiative, designed to guarantee the long-term sustainability and affordability of essential drugs.

He said the initiative aimed at combating the effects of medical inflation and ensuring that the health insurance programme remained viable and effective for the future.

He noted that NHIA acknowledged the challenges posed by medical inflation and the need for sustainable healthcare financing.

“By reviewing and adjusting medicine tariffs, NHIA aims to alleviate the financial burden on patients and ensure that quality care remains accessible.

“The collaboration with stakeholders highlights a commitment to a transparent and inclusive process for addressing these critical issues,” he said.

Ohiri further disclosed that the authority had accredited multiple healthcare facilities in various states to work closely with state governments to expand coverage and improve access to healthcare services.

“This effort includes the establishment of state health insurance agencies in additional states, bringing the total to 36 states with active agencies,” he said.

He says NHIA is passionate about boosting enrolment in the national health insurance system while, simultaneously, working with partners to improve the quality of services in both the public and private sectors.

“The NHIA’s strategy focuses on improving fundamentals, consulting with key stakeholders, boosting public awareness of the benefits of health insurance, and working with states to increase coverage at the sub-national level.

“The authority has been consulting, learning, supporting, and encouraging key players in the healthcare ecosystem to achieve higher enrolment and improved services from healthcare providers.

“The mission is crucial because out-of-pocket expenditure on health is a poor option. It drives poverty, lack of productivity, and mortality when people cannot pay for unforeseen health costs. This issue is even more severe for families dealing with chronic health conditions,” he said.

He also said that closely related to the problem of out-of-pocket spending was the need to support vulnerable Nigerians who lack the resources to benefit from health insurance.

According to him, this group includes the elderly, the infirm, and those living with disabilities and other challenges.

“For those who cannot earn income or care for themselves, the challenge is even greater,” he said.

He added that NHIA therefore leveraged various special funds established by the Federal Government and prioritised enrolling vulnerable groups to ensure they access health insurance benefits.

The DG said the authority had expanded eligibility to include women facing challenges after childbirth.

”This initiative will ensure these women receive free treatment under a health insurance scheme, significantly improving maternal healthcare.Adjusting the eligibility criteria is a step in the right direction,” he said.