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NHIA To Review Medicine Tariffs Amid Rising Medical Inflation – DG

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The director-general, National Health Insurance Authority, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri.
The director-general, National Health Insurance Authority, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri.

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has announced that it will be reviewing its medicine tariffs in response to a significant rise in medical inflation over the past few months.

This initiative is part of a broader strategy aimed at ensuring the affordability, quality and sustainability of medicines under the national health insurance program.

Director-general of NHIA, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri explained that the review process began with a comprehensive meeting involving nearly one hundred stakeholders from various sectors of the health industry, including practitioners, government representatives, hospitals, pharmacists, dentists and health maintenance organisations (HMOs).

The main goal of this review is to address the critical barrier to accessing high-quality healthcare – the cost of medicines. Ohiri emphasised that the NHIA is dedicated to improving healthcare access and affordability for all citizens through proactive measures, continued stakeholder engagement and strategic financial disbursements.

In addition to the tariff reviews, the NHIA has launched a medicines initiative designed to guarantee the long-term sustainability and affordability of essential drugs. This initiative aims to combat the effects of medical inflation and ensure that the health insurance programme remains viable and effective for the future.

Speaking on the allocation of 12.9 billion through the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), Ohiri highlighted that this funding aims to enhance healthcare coverage and support for the poor and vulnerable populations across the states.

The NHIA has also accredited multiple healthcare facilities in various states while working closely with state governments to expand coverage and improve access to healthcare services. Efforts include the establishment of state health insurance agencies in additional states, bringing the total to 36 states with active agencies.

Acknowledging the challenges posed by medical inflation and the need for sustainable healthcare financing, Ohiri emphasised that by reviewing and adjusting medicine tariffs, the NHIA aims to alleviate the financial burden on patients and ensure that quality care remains accessible. This collaborative effort with stakeholders underscores the commitment to a transparent and inclusive process in addressing critical issues.

Furthermore, the NHIA is focused on boosting enrollment in the national health insurance system while working with partners to improve the quality of services at both the public and private sector levels. The strategy also includes 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.

Ohiri stressed the importance of this mission, explaining that out-of-pocket expenditure on health drives poverty, lack of productivity, and mortality when people cannot pay for unforeseen health costs, particularly for families dealing with chronic health conditions.

In response to this issue, the NHIA has leveraged various special funds established by the federal government and prioritised enrolling vulnerable groups to ensure they access health insurance benefits. Additionally, the eligibility criteria have been adjusted to include women facing challenges after childbirth, ensuring that these women receive free treatment under a health insurance scheme, thus significantly improving maternal healthcare.

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