Health insurance is now worth the price of junk and waste materials in Nigeria – Business Insider Africa

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Health insurance in Nigeria is bordering on obsolete.
For a country with over 200 million people, it is alarming to discover that only 3% of the country’s entire population are medically insured.
This is a result of a few reasons, including the stigma surrounding payment plan services, owing to the level of scams perpetrated within the country. There is also the issue of brain drain, as the country’s most brilliant medical practitioners emigrate in search of better offers.
Adding to these are the age old problems of poor infrastructures, lack of medical equipment, drugs and affordable healthcare plans.
So what happens when a low-income earner in Nigeria is in need of medical attention? According to Jerome Ngutor, a resident of Port Harcourt (one of the richest oil producing states in Nigeria), and a food seller, one sure way to get medical attention is to trade in waste.
Jerome Ngutor’s medical complication had driven him to sought after alternatives to very expensive hospitals. It was then he discovered that waste could be traded in for health packages .
He then signed up with Nigerian health-tech outfit Soso Care, and after delivering a used car battery and plastic waste, he received a health insurance card and qualified to see a doctor. During this time he was treated for his stomach ulcer.
“I did not come with a kobo (penny)…and you can see they gave me the drugs, so I am very happy.” Ngutor told Reuters.
The idea to trade in waste for a medical plan came from Nonso Opuru, founder of Soso Care. He saw this as a way to solve Nigeria’s twin problems of waste and lack of affordable healthcare. The waste, mainly plastic, is sold to local recycling firms or exported.
“We thought of how we can use one problem, which is plastic that pollutes the environment, to solve another problem, which is access to quality healthcare.” Nonso told Reuters at a Soso Care hub in Port Harcourt.
For the team at Soso, delivering a single-use battery can earn a person access to healthcare for one year while three kg of scrap metal and four to five kg of plastic waste can give a month’s health cover.
Soso Care was founded in 2019, but has not yet been able to establish itself as a household name in the medical sector. However, 7,500 families are covered under the health insurance scheme.
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