By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in Nigeria have been warned to sit up or incur the wrath of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Executive-Secretary of NHIS, Prof Usman Yusuf, accused the HMOs of feeding fat on contributions of those who enrolled for the NHIS through them.
Prof Yusuf said he has a vision of making the HMOs responsive, accountable and providing qualitative service for its enrolees.
The NHIS boss declared to the HMOs that “the era of disregarding with impunity their rights and privileges [was] over.”
He charged the HMOs to wake up from their lethargy in the new order, and ensure that enrolees not only receive quality service at every point of need, but are also accorded respect and dignity.
“He advised them to put aside all inefficiency, corruption and impunity, as maximum sanction will be applied in all cases of breach of moral and financial trust against any industry player in the future.
“According to Yusuf, the time has come for the enrolees to reap the benefits of their insurance contributions rather than being treated shabbily at hospitals,” a press release signed by Head, Media and Public Relations Division of NHIS, Mr Ayo Osinlu, quoted Prof Yusuf as saying.
The statement explained that the scheme’s boss said these words while addressing a meeting of the Standing Committee of NHIS and the HMOs recently in Abuja.
He was further quoted as lamenting that, “The enrolee has no one to complain to. Most of you guys are in Lagos. When they call you in distress, you are rude, and drop the call on them. Yet you collect their money. It is their money. Not your money. Not government money. They give you easy money. Yet when they go to the hospitals, they are treated like trash. It’s got to change, people.”
Prof Yusuf emphasized that the major goal of the NHIS is universal health coverage, urging all stakeholders to realign their focus and operations towards that national objective.
He advised all HMOs to become ‘more innovative and nimble’, and embark on aggressive marketing, as the era of the allocation of enrolees by NHIS or government was gone.
He also cautioned politicians who believe that the NHIS is an ATM from where they could access free funds, saying “it is no longer business as usual.”