Hon. Moses Essien has made a case for the implementation of the Health Insurance Agency (HIA) Law in Akwa Ibom State.
Hon. Essien is the Lawmaker representing Ibiono Ibom State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly and Chairman, Committee on Health.
He represents the people of Ibiono Ibom on the platform of the Young People’s Party.
In a motion raised at the State’s Assembly during the Thursday, 20 July plenary, Hon. Essien noted that there’s an urgent need to implement the HIA Law to help reduce financial burden for citizens seeking affordable health services.
Essien noted that ”the rising cost of healthcare services compounded by inflation and the recent subsidy removal, patients are going through financial distress; some are unable to afford drugs, leaving some medical conditions untreated which worsens and escalates symptoms leading to death.”
Background on the Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Agency Law
The Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance Agency Law was enacted by the Assembly and received assent from the previous administration under Mr Udom Emmanuel on Tuesday, 8th February 2022.
Its primary objective was to ensure that all citizens and residents of the State have access to good and affordable healthcare services.
However, over a year has passed since the law’s enactment, and there has been no concrete mechanism put in place to ensure its implementation for the benefit of the people of Akwa Ibom.
The lack of progress has led to growing concerns about the rising cost of healthcare services, which has been further exacerbated by inflation and the recent subsidy removal, Hon Essien disclosed.
The Concerns and Urgent Need Pointed Out by Hon. Essien
Burdened by the rising cost and financial distress faced by citizens, Hon. Essien pointed out that several other Nigerian states, such as Anambra, Delta, Lagos, and Niger, have already established their State Health Insurance Schemes (SHIS).
He noted the implementation by the States have enabled them to benefit from various global funds and the Basic Healthcare Provision Funds (BHCPF) provided by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) under the National Health Act.
Hon. Essien stressed the importance of health insurance in providing financial protection against the high costs of healthcare services, as it is globally recognized as a key means to achieve universal health coverage.
He emphasized that the health insurance scheme in Akwa Ibom State would not be limited to urban areas but would extend its coverage to rural areas and citizens of all social statuses in need of health services.
The lawmaker assured that the implementation and compliance process would be closely monitored by the Committee on Health.
He expressed determination in removing bureaucratic bottlenecks and policies that might hinder the full realization of the law.
He added that the HIA Law also includes provisions for government subsidies to offset the cost of health services, especially for civil servants.
These subsidies, Hon. Essien said would be deducted from their salaries and remitted to alleviate the impact of high healthcare costs and mortality rates.