The Nigerian government has imposed a new levy on phone calls in order to fund the provision of healthcare to Nigerians who cannot afford medical care
The National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022, according to President Muhammadu Buhari, will cover 83 million poor Nigerians who cannot afford to pay premiums.
According to NOI Polls, almost eight out of ten Nigerians do not have health insurance, and the majority of Nigerians spend cash when they need to visit a hospital for treatment.
The new law establishes a fund for vulnerable groups, which will be funded by a new telecommunications tax of at least one kobo per second for GSM calls.
It will also be funded by a basic health-care provision fund, a health-insurance tax, a special intervention fund, and any investment profits, donations, and gifts to the authority.
With an average call rate of 11 Kobo per second, the new rule means that every second of phone calls in the country will be charged at least 9%.
Children under the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly, physically and intellectually challenged people, and impoverished people, as defined from time to time, make up the vulnerable category.
According to section 26 of the bill, the government would raise funds for organisations through a variety of methods, but the sources will be subject to assessment by the Council.
The new law mandates that every Nigerian have health insurance.
As a result of the law’s adoption, call prices are likely to rise as phone providers pass on the expense to users.
Telecoms companies recommended a 40% increase in call and SMS fees in April, citing increased costs of operations and inflation as main causes.
According to the group, the call fee will rise from N6.4 to N8.95, while the SMS price cap will rise from N4 to N5.61.
The Nigerian Communications Commission stated that it has not approved any increase in call fees and that it would only make a decision after analyzing the industry’s current operating costs.