Nigeria: Without health insurance, children risk school enrolment says new Government policy

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Jos, June 11, 2021: Nigerian authorities say they will deny school enrolment for children without health insurance in three years time.

“Health insurance is not optional. It is compulsory for every resident,” Dr. Fabong Jemchang, the Director General of the Plateau State Contributory Health Insurance Scheme (PLASCHEMA) said, Thursday.

The new health policy, launched October 2020 by Government in the central State of Plateau aims to reduce “out-of-pocket expenditures” on healthcare, and improve family incomes, Jemchang said in Jos at the formal flagoff of the distribution of insurance access cards to civil servants.

“A healthy population translates into an economically viable population. It is when people are healthy that they can carry about businesses and other income generating activities. And if you earn and spend on healthcare, it is as good as not earning so we want to stop that and give the best life to our people,” said the insurance pointsman.

According to official records, 15,803 workers in the formal sector have enrolled for the program. Another 32,500 have enrolled in the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, designed for the poor and vulnerable groups. 180,000 people from the informal sector have been enrolled and another 1000 have signed up for the private health plan package.

The scheme would enroll half of the over 4 million people in Plateau State in 5 years, Jemchang said. A “subtle compulsion” might be used to compel citizens to sign up, he said.

In Jemchang’s words, “Government is taking time to create awareness and allow people to see the gains of this program for which it is spending huge amounts of money. But in the next three years, you may not be able to enrol your child in school, you may not have tax clearance if you’ve not enrolled for the health insurance.”

At least 500 “well equipped” healthcare centers across the State have been accredited for the program, with more underway, he said. 325 of such facilities are grassroots facilities, meant to care for people within their localities, said the Official.

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