A telecommunication tax in the equivalent of a minimum of one kobo per second for GSM calls will be part of the sources of funds required to finance free healthcare for the Vulnerable Group in Nigeria.
This is contained in the new National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
The law which was seen by Nairametrics includes a provision under Section 26 subsection 1c of the act which states that the source of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund includes “telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.”
The law defines the vulnerable group in society as Children under five, pregnant women, aged, physically and mentally challenged persons, and indigent people as may be defined from time to time.
What is the Vulnerable Group Fund
The Vulnerable Group Fund is money set aside to pay for healthcare services for vulnerable Nigerians who cannot pay for health insurance. The objective of the Vulnerable Group Fund is to provide finance to subsidize the cost of provision of health care services to vulnerable persons in Nigeria.
The law also specifies that the money from the Vulnerable Group Fund shall be expended to provide subsidy for health insurance coverage of vulnerable persons as determined by the Council; and for the payment of health insurance premiums for indigents.
Thus, to fund it, the law provides several options which are as follows.
- Basic Health Care Provision Fund to the Authority;
- health insurance levy;
- telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls;
- money that may be allocated to the Vulnerable Group Fund by the Government;
- motley that accrues to the Vulnerable Group Fund from investments made by the Council: and
- grants, donations, gifts, and any other voluntary contributions made to the Vulnerable Group Fund.
- The act also allows the Health Insurance Authority to by regulation review the sources of funding to keep pace with developments in the health insurance industry.
The new act also allows the proceeds of the funds to be invested in securities and deposits. The law also requires that all persons resident in Nigeria are expected to obtain health insurance.