Chinonso Opurum is the founder and growth lead of SOSO Care, a low-cost micro health insurance which solves the health inequality in Nigeria through the collection and sales of recyclables such as paper, cartons, PET bottles, sachet water nylons, tins, metals, used car batteries from Nigerians to finance their health insurance premium.
Over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s 200 million population have no medical insurance, Opurum and his team aims to deploy the 30 tonnes of Nigeria’s annual generated waste to tackle the problems of health inclusion and environmental pollution. Within three years, SOSO Care has gained local and international recognition as a top 20 UN Habitat waste to wealth solution; Qatar Foundation top solution on health and environment sustainability; UNAIDS top solution on health financing, and World Bank Group top 5 solutions on sustainability.
What is health insurance?
Health insurance is simply a security, defence or protection an individual can take against medical cost. It’s a type of insurance coverage that covers the cost of medical and surgical expenses of the insured.
The main pitfalls of not having health insurance is primarily cost-related. Without health insurance you may get charged much more for a medical condition that would otherwise have been covered by your plan.
Again, since you might be charged out-of-pocket to cover your medical expenses, you might end up spending your personal savings on high medical bills that would have been avoidable with a simple basic health plan that is likely to cost you less than N12,000 for one year. In some cases, people delay or postpone the need for medical care because of inability to pay out of pocket which also puts them at risk of health issues becoming worse. Finally, people shouldn’t hide their medical history when taking a policy to avoid choosing a plan that would be less effective for their case,
What are the benefits of health insurance?
The benefits of health insurance are enormous. It prevents people from spending their money on any medical need. A lot of people are pushed into poverty every day from unexpected medical expenses. I have seen families sell their properties to finance the medical bill of their loved one. It’s still unfortunate that over 180 million Nigerians do not have any form of health coverage. Social benefits cannot be complete in good countries without health cover. You cannot even obtain a visa today to visit Europe without a health insurance plan.
How can people position themselves to benefit from the opportunities in health insurance?
I think the big problem with low penetration of insurance in Nigeria is distrust and awareness. Most people don’t know how insurance works and who insurance has helped. For many, it is considered an expensive luxury.
Even with these limitations, banks, state governments and small businesses are designing simple but powerful policies which are low cost to cover basic healthcare needs. In the coming years, most insurance cover would be embedded into existing solutions to enable ease of taking out a policy.
Like I said earlier, health insurance should be a top priority for anyone who is really interested in saving money. A small family with kids really needs a health cover. A child is likely to be sick, that is why they are called babies. They will develop new teeth and in most cases have night fever which requires medical care. The first five years of a child’s life is very important. While prayer is essential as God gives life and heals the sick, we must not also forget God created doctors specifically to manage and treat diseases.
People can take advantage of new insurance policies which are low cost and specifically designed for every pocket.
There is a health insurance policy where users don’t only pay cash but can as well give their recyclables which are sold to finance people’s health insurance premium. And all forms of recyclables are accepted from paper, cartons, tin metals, to used car batteries, sachet water nylons and PET bottles. Just about anything is recyclable.
With pervasive poverty and poor disposable income which is affecting people’s ability to take a policy, this alternative to cash ensures everyone irrespective of their financial situation can have access to quality health across over 1000 hospitals nationwide.
Nigeria generates over 30 million tonnes of waste yearly and about 20 billion pet bottles which creates environmental and public health problems, our goal is to tackle both problems of health inclusion and environmental pollution. We witness about 55,000 maternal and infancy death owing to inability to access quality health care and insurance.
Individuals and corporates are also currently joining such initiative to raise 50,000 tonnes of recyclables to enable the financing of finance health insurance premium of 50,000 vulnerable women and kids. Likewise, financial institutions such as First City Monument Bank, Wema banks and some of their branches. Their wastes are being collected to provide health insurance for pregnant women and children.
This alternative not only builds trust and create awareness on the benefits of health insurance but also reduces plastic pollution in environment and ocean. You can now put your waste to good use. At least it would cost you nothing to recycle your trash for free medical cover for one year or even donate it on behalf of the vulnerable people.
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