December 2, 2022

In Plateau State, rural farmers could soon exchange their crops for health insurance

Farmers display their goods at a rural market near Jos

Officials in Plateau State are considering enrolling poor rural farmers in a newly introduced health insurance scheme without accepting cash for premiums.

If concluded, farmers could exchange their farm crops for health insurance, Dr. Fabong Jemchang, the Director General of the Plateau State Contributory Health Care Management Agency (PLASCHEMA) said, Thursday.

“We want to see how we can ease the payment of premiums for families,” said Jemchang.

“We want to be able to see exchange the farmers’ rice, maize, potatoes, yam, and the likes for premiums. Just anything we can exchange for money can be accepted in place of the stipulated insurance fees,” he said.

Aside from farmers, low-income artisans and traders might also benefit from the arrangement, he said.

“It takes away poverty which magnifies the need for healthcare while shrinking the capacity to finance it,” he said.

“A healthy population translates into an economically viable population. And an economically viable population increases the fiscal space to finance healthcare,” he added.

“In Plateau State, a whopping 96.8% of the population pays for healthcare out of pocket.

“Of the 96.8%, 74.4% are self-employed. They make their income on daily basis. They include farmers, artisans, marketers etcetera,” he said.

PLASCHEMA offers four insurance packages according to an official bulletin: Equity health plan, formal health plan, informal plan and private plan.

The equity plan is specifically for the vulnerable groups including children under five years old, pregnant women, the elderly, people living with disabilities, mentally challenged people, orphans and internally displaced persons. This plan is enjoyed free-of-charge by beneficiaries.

The formal plan is a Contributory plan for all public sector employees. The plan is jointly funded by employers and employees.

The informal plan is benefitted by students, farmers, artisans, self-employed individuals, youth groups, unions and associations, rural dwellers, traders and the likes. While students are expected to pay for this package at N4000 for each academic session, other groups pay N12,000 annually to enjoy a wide range of health services by just paying 10% of the cost of their drugs. Every other expenses including surgery are borne by the government.

The private health plan shall consist of packages providing extra healthcare Services directly proportionate to the individual’s contribution. Eligibility is for those who subscribe and those approved to benefit by PLASCHEMA.