The Nigerian state of Lagos is to roll out a mandatory health insurance scheme over the next few months, becoming the latest jurisdiction to introduce such a measure.
Dr Jide Idris, the commissioner for health for Lagos, told a journalist with Thisday Newspapers, a Lagos-based news organisation, that mandatory insurance scheme is being targeted at the state’s poorest citizens.
Lagos is Nigeria’s wealthiest state, and has a population of around 24 million people.
“The principle behind it is to mobilise funds from different sources so as to cover the poor too,” Dr Idris is quoted by the publication as saying.
“This mean they will no longer have to dig their hands into their pockets to pay for healthcare. It is a contributory scheme.
“On specific reference to the poor, there is a provision in the law which states that one per cent of the consolidated revenue will also go into that fund. It is an equity fund that would take care of the poor and vulnerable.
“What we will make sure of is that the system must be able to determine specifically how to measure the level of poverty, so that the poor will truly benefit from the scheme.”
Asked how the new mandatory insurance scheme would differ from a previous system that provided free healthcare to residents of Lagos State, Dr Idris noted that although free healthcare “is one form of healthcare financing”, it is in fact not free.
“There is no way government will fund free healthcare the way it is supposed to be funded,” he went on, according to the Thisday report. “When this scheme starts, free health stops. And that’s why we are concerned that for those who are really poor, we will pay their own contribution in that equity fund.”
As reported, compulsory health insurance is a growing trend throughout “Expatland”, as a growing number of countries require expatriates, tourists and business travellers to prove that they have health insurance before they’re allowed to come in.