Latest medical insurance law opens growth window for insurers, investors –

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The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2021 recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari is seen as a recent growth window that can attract investors into insurance and health management sectors.

With plan for a ‘Vulnerable Group Fund’ to incorporate Basic Health Care Provision Fund because of the NHIA, Health Insurance Levy, Special Intervention Fund, phone tax and any investment proceeds, donations and gifts to the Authority, and targeting over 80 million vulnerable Nigerian, the chance for growth is large, analysts have said.

Obasi Ngwuta, director-general of West Africa Business School, described it as a chance for brand spanking new investors, life and medical insurance firms in Nigeria to grow and expand their frontiers.

Insurers are encouraged to make the most of the brand new law to speculate and grow their businesses, Ngwuta said.

The managing director of a health maintenance organisation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We want time to review it (the brand new law) in order that we will actually understand where to partner.”

In line with the MD, the Act is supposed to extend participation and higher service for enrollees. “So, we’re positive it would be within the interest of the entire industry.”

The NHIA Act says the authority, amongst other things, shall make sure the implementation and utilisation of the fundamental healthcare provision fund as required under the National Health Act and every other guidelines as approved by the minister under the law.

“It shall grant accreditation and re-accreditation to health maintenance organisations (HMOs), mutual health associations, third party administrators and healthcare facilities and monitor performance.”

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a recent wave of interest amongst insurance firms veering into the health sector either coming with wholesale medical insurance subsidiaries or partnering with established HMOs to supply additional services that increase advantages for enrollees.

The insurers say the HMOs have an organised enrollee customer base that gives a chance to extend healthcare advantages and other personalised insurance services that enhance the way of life of the residents.

Read also: 83 million poor Nigerians to enjoy coverage, as Buhari signs NHIS Act

Akin Ogunbiyi, chairman of Mutual Advantages Assurance plc, said, “HMOs have an organised clientele base that we will partner with to boost their healthcare advantages, and at the identical time sell other insurance products.”

In line with Ogunbiyi, Mutual Advantages Life Assurance is currently partnering with a HMO to enable its enrollees to enjoy prolonged advantages from conventional insurance products.

“HMOs pull about N100 billion premium annually, and that is just from a small percentage of the population; so the potential of that industry is large, and we’re glad to partner with them,” he said.

During the last three years, the country witnessed the launch and formal unveiling of Leadway Health, a subsidiary of Leadway Assurance Company Limited; and Consolidated Hallmark HMO, a subsidiary of Consolidated Hallmark Insurance plc.

These are along with existing insurance subsidiary HMOs including AXA Mansard Health and Royal Exchange HMO, amongst others.

Tokunbo Alli, CEO of Leadway Health, had said the introduction of Leadway Health would function a disruption and an exceptional redefinition of the delivery of reliable and reasonably priced health care to the general public.

Alli said: “With the introduction of Leadway Health Limited, our range of solutions would help bridge the gap in providing quality, accessible, and reasonably priced health services to

“As of 2018, there have been about 57 HMOs in Nigeria, based on Statista, yet nearly 97 per cent of individuals surveyed in Nigeria didn’t have any medical insurance. Only about three per cent of people had medical insurance, mainly on employer-based coverage.”

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