Airtel has collaborated with AXA Mansard, a leading healthcare service provider, to launch a new service that gives its Nigerian subscribers access to health insurance through their mobile phones.
By dialling the short code *987*7#, Airtel users can now enroll for “affordable and robust” health insurance plans from AXA Mansard, with access to over 1,000 hospitals nationwide for healthcare services, the telecoms company said in a press statement.
Some of the covers provided in the AXA Mansard Health plans include malaria cover, inpatient, outpatient, specialist medical consultations, immunizations, family planning, ambulance services, dental care, etc.
The service is aimed to provide easy access to healthcare for all Nigerians by leveraging on the USSD channel, an easy-to-use and interactive platform.
“With this initiative, we are not just delivering bespoke health insurance services to the doorstep of more people, we are also leading a quiet revolution that will drive and deepen health insurance inclusion,” Muyiwa Ebitanmi, Head of Mobile Financial Services at Airtel Nigeria said. “This will be achieved by removing the many barriers that have hitherto excluded many well-meaning Nigerians from participating in the sector.”
Broadening access to health insurance for more Nigerians
Despite the importance of having a health insurance plan, the uptake of insurance products among most Nigerians has been consistently low. As of 2018, about 97% of Nigerians covered in a survey did not have any health insurance.
Established over two decades ago, the federal government-led National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) seems to have failed in realising the objectives for which it was set up. The NHIS was designed to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for healthcare, cover costs as well as deepen access to healthcare services in Nigeria.
The NHIS had a 10-year target of achieving universal health coverage from 2005, the year it began operations. However, only about 3% of the Nigerian population was covered by the scheme as of 2015, the majority of which were enrolled under private sector players.
In Nigeria, most people with health insurance often have the mandatory employer-based coverage as privately-purchased insurance plans remain significantly uncommon, data obtained from Statista shows.
Some of the challenges that hinder the private uptake of health insurance schemes are a low level of awareness, affordability, ineffective distribution systems, and inefficient payment models.
That’s the core of the partnership between Airtel Nigeria and AXA Mansard. According to Airtel, the goal is to solve these challenges and help Nigerians access viable health insurance schemes.
“In order to mitigate these challenges and satisfy the health needs of the retail consumer whilst also encouraging the uptake of health insurance in the country, we have partnered with Airtel Nigeria to provide a solution that gives users a convenient way to purchase and manage their AXA Mansard micro-insurance plans,” noted Alfred Egbai, Head of Emerging Customers and Digital Partnerships Group at AXA Mansard.
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