HMO tasks SMEs on healthcare coverage for employees

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By Lydia Ngwakwe

Lagos, May, 11, 2022 Adesimbo Bello-Ukiri, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AVON Healthcare Ltd., has urged operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to provide health coverage for their employees.

Bello-Ukiri gave the advice at the 14th edition of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Business series, held virtually on Wednesday.

Naija247news reports that the topic of the conference is: “Understanding and Accessing HMO Plans for your Business.’’

According to her, the employee’s healthcare coverage will serve as an immediate and future solution to avoidable illnesses and that health insurance cover is not a luxury, but a necessity suitable for an employer and his/her staff.

She said lack of healthcare would have several effects on businesses.

“According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) reports, the 4th biggest cost to SMEs operations is employee cost (14 per cent) and health-related costs.

“Several studies suggest that the cost of lost productivity secondary to health-related conditions exceed the costs of direct medical care.

“Lost on-the-job productivity (termed absenteeism) and related costs may be greater than the total of health care and absenteeism costs.

“Proving health coverage for employees’ health plans is an immediate and future solution,’’ Bello-Ukiri said

She noted that less than five per cent of Nigerians were under any form of health insurance cover and were probably insured under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

She further said that less than three per cent of the Nigerian population were covered under any form of health insurance scheme, be it the health insurance scheme that some states had started or the private HMOs such as AVON and others were doing.

“That means we have well over nine per cent of Nigerians uncovered by any health insurance scheme; and that means every time they go to the hospital; they pay out of pocket.

“Even if we say 40 per cent are living below the poverty line, which means we have 60 per cent of Nigerians who are above the poverty line and should be able to have some kind of health insurance cover that they can pay for.

“And out of these 60, you have maybe about eight per cent being covered by any; that is, 53 per cent of Nigerians who can afford to have some kind of health insurance cover and they don’t have.

“That will include some of you that are here today, and it definitely will include some of the workers that you have working for you,’’ she said.

Bello-Ukiri said that SMEs in Nigeria contributed up to 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and accounted for 80 per cent of employment, hence, very critical for Nigeria’s economic development.

She said: “So if all the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Nigeria have health insurance cover, we can move straight from that eight per cent to 80 per cent’’.