ASHIA moves to end extortion by healthcare providers in Anambra

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…Says no separate drugs for enrollees in hospitals

BY OZO RAY, Awka

The Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) has risen up to the urgent need to protect her numerous enrollees from the wiles of fraudulent healthcare providers who extort money from them upon treatment of ailments.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Dr. Simeon Beluonwu Onyemaechi, disclosed this during a phone interview with our correspondent.

Onyemaechi’s response was sequel to the complaints of some Honourable members of the House of Assembly who complained that some hospitals under ASHIA scheme engaged in sharp practices as they asked enrollees to choose between ASHIA drugs and drugs provided by the hospitals just to compel them to pay extra cost for drugs already paid for by the health insurance agency.

The ASHIA boss who explained that there were no such thing as ASHIA drugs, maintained that ASHIA has paid for all the drugs to be administered to her enrollees upon diagnosis and treatments in all the hospitals and health facilities under her scheme.

He said the agency has received such complaints and has equally gone ahead to delist hospitals who defrauded her enrollees, saying that the health insurance was intended to enable citizens especially those in the rural areas have unhindered access to basic quality healthcare.

The health expert said, “There are healthcare providers who attempted to extort our enrollees. It is a deliberate thing. What we have found is that in a bid to still get money from the patients, they deceive the patients telling them that there are inferior drugs that ASHIA would pay for and there are standard drugs they want to use for other people. But they are all the same set of drugs that ASHIA has paid for.They confuse them and enrollees because they want the best of services, they say give me the drug that will work and the hospitals will charge them extra money.

“But when the patients insist on ASHIA drugs, they go home and get better. It is just a way for some dubious healthcare providers to extort money from our enrollees. We have had a situation in the past where because of the devaluation of the Naira, cost of medications went too high, we decide to revise our drug tariff. We improved on all our prices just to ensure that our enrollees don’t get poor services when they go to facilities.

“All over the world, health insurance gives you generic drugs. Nobody gives you branded drugs for health insurance schemes. There is no such thing as there is a particular drug for ASHIA and a separate one for not in ASHIA. It is something used to deceive patients and extort money from them after ASHIA has paid for them.

“What I encourage everybody is when such things are said, stay there and turn the back of the ID card that ASHIA has given you and call the line there and suddenly you will see that those drugs they claimed are not for you will be given to you. So there is no such dicotomy.

“I am not an armchair CEO. I go to facilities. If you go to Regina Ceali hospital Awka there is no separate pharmacy for ASHIA enrollees. The drugs are the same. If you go to General Hospital Onitsha the drugs are the same. If you go to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Ihiala it is the same thing. You go to Boromeo Hospital Nkpor it is the same thing. So there is nothing like ASHIA drugs and non-ASHIA drugs in all our facilities. Most these are from very small hospitals who are bent on extorting our enrollees and once I get this kind of complaints, I delist them from our scheme.

“Recently two specialist hospitals in Awka were removed from our scheme because of sharp practices that we got the report from there. There is nothing wrong with the hospitals but the issue is that they extort money from our enrollees.”