One kobo per second GSM tax to fund new health care law for vulnerable Nigerians

A telecommunications tax equivalent to at least one kobo per second for GSM calls will be among the sources of finance needed to finance free health care 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 Act which has been seen by Nairametrics includes a provision under Section 26(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 the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly, the physically and mentally handicapped and indigent persons, as they may be defined from time to time.

What is the Vulnerable Groups Fund

The Vulnerable Group Fund is a fund set aside to pay for health services for vulnerable Nigerians who cannot afford health insurance. The purpose of the Vulnerable Group Fund is to provide funds to subsidize the cost of providing health care services to vulnerable people in Nigeria.

The law also specifies that money from the Vulnerable Groups Fund must be spent to subsidize the health insurance coverage of vulnerable people, as determined by the Board; and for the payment of health insurance premiums for the indigent.

Thus, to finance it, the law provides for several options which are as follows.

  • Provision fund for basic health care the Authority;
  • health insurance contribution;
  • telecommunications tax, not less than one koho per second of GSM calls;
  • the sums that can be allocated to the Vulnerable Groups Fund by the government;
  • patchwork that accrues to the Vulnerable Groups Fund through investments made by the Council; and
  • grants, donations, gifts and any other voluntary contributions made to the Vulnerable Groups Fund.
  • The Act also allows the Health Insurance Authority to review funding sources by regulation to keep pace with developments in the health insurance industry.

The new law also allows fund proceeds to be invested in securities and deposits. The law also requires that anyone residing in Nigeria be required to obtain health insurance.

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