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Affordable Health Insurance For The Self-Employed In Nigeria

As a self-employed person in Nigeria, there is a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) package for you. According to the scheme, this is a non-profit health insurance programme covering groups of individual with common economic activities run by the members. What this means is that if you belong to an association in your field or line of business, your group or association can register the members into the Urban Self-Employed Social Health Insurance Programme. For example, Association for Hair Saloon Owners, Food Vendors’ or Restaurant Owners’ Association or Taxi drivers’ Association, and Market Women Association et cetera as the case may be. Individuals who are members of a socially cohesive group are free to join the programme.

The participants of this programme can choose their individual health care packages based on their individual needs. There is a flat contribution fee paid monthly by the self-employed individuals who have decided to enroll into this health insurance programme. The contribution rate is determined by the type of plan chosen by an individual. A prospective participant must be a member of an already existing Association.  This Association, together with other Associations, come together to form a User Group.  There must be a membership of at least 500 participants for each User Group to ensure adequate pooling of resources.  The User Group will elect its Board of Trustees which will administer it and set up Quality Assurance and Health Education Committees.

Each contributor will be given an identity card with which he/she will obtain health care from the chosen Health Care Provider (public or private) after a specified waiting period. This type of health insurance does not extend to any dependent of the enrolled person which means that it is made for only one individual.

What about the self-employed individuals in the suburbs and the rural areas? Which scheme can they enroll into?

There is another health insurance programme for those living in the rural areas. It is similar to the urban self-employed social health insurance scheme but in this case, it is called the Rural Community Social Health Insurance Programme. It is defined as a non-profit health insurance programme for a cohesive group of households or individuals (i.e. a community) which is run by its members. Membership comprises individuals in the community. It follows the same process as those in the urban areas and a flat monthly contribution is also required.

This will require the prospective persons to become a member of the association of their individual lines of trade so that they can register through the associations. The registered persons will be making a monthly contribution paid in cash monthly or by installments by the participants. Every participant or contributor will be given an identity card with which he/she will obtain health care from the chosen Health Care Provider (public or private), after a specified waiting period.

In summary, this will help the enrolled participants to have access to quality health care without worrying about paying lump sums of money out of their pockets in times of ill health. The insurance company will take care of your medical bills; there will be quick response ambulance to attend to the individuals in case of emergencies and other benefits that come with the National Health Insurance Scheme. Most of these benefits are listed on the NHIS website.

The most recent way to register as a self-employed person or a voluntary contributor is a lot easier as you can now register online as a Voluntary Contributor and pay online. You can also register for an online account that will allow you to view your details and to manage your account.

You will be required to purchase a voucher from any of the participating Health Maintenance Organizations. Details on these can be found on the NHIS website. You can select your healthcare facility online, select your State and Local Government Area (LGA) and a drop down box for HealthCare Facilities (HCF’s) will display registered HCF’s in your LGA. You would have a list of health care facilities in your local government to choose from. NHIS is also introducing an SMS communication system. In future Voluntary Contributors will receive an SMS when any details are changed on their account.

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