The Managing Director, Defence Health Maintenance Limited (DHML), retired Rear. Adm. Azeez Afolayan has called on retired military personnel to properly enroll in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Afolayan made the call at a meeting with military veterans with the theme, “Strengthening Health Insurance Cover for the Military Veterans” on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the welfare and comfort of military veterans was a thing of concern, adding that military veterans were accorded the status of special citizens and respected and treated as such in many advanced counties.
Afolayan, a surgeon, said military veterans generally were unaware of the contents of the benefits package in DHML programme, saying the interactive meeting was intended to bring the veterans closer to the organisation.
He added that the meeting was also convened to enable them to interact with veterans in such a way as to fully benefit from the various provisions made for their health insurance cover with DHML.
According to him, the health insurance benefits package for the retired personnel is the same as that for the serving personnel.
“The idea that as retirees, some items in the benefits package have been removed is not true.
“In fact, as a result of advancing age and the predisposition to several chronic illnesses, more funds are expended on retirees than on serving personnel.
“Likewise, more time and attention are required in proffering solutions to the many health challenges of retirees compared to serving personnel.
“The benefits package for military veterans is very comprehensive and covers virtually all commonly encountered medical scenarios, including your dental and ophthalmic needs,” he said.
The managing director revealed that many military veterans did not understand the need for them to register as enrollees after separation from active service.
He explained that as serving personnel, enrolment was automatic, with the service identification card usually sufficient and doubling as an enrollee card.
According to him, the automatic enrolment of serving personnel is actually an unusual privilege accorded the serving personnel.
“This is on account of the difficulties that are encountered in registering those deployed on combat duties, outside the country and on classified deployment in many places.
“Notwithstanding, even serving personnel are now being required to register at the military HCP in their AOR latest by April 1 this year.
“Registration as enrollees for health insurance clearly identifies to the HMO who their eligible dependents are.
“This is important for the success of health insurance utilising the HMO system. Additionally, an updated register of enrollees is a veritable planning tool for any health insurance system,” he added.
Afolayan lamented that while DHML had been making efforts to satisfy the veterans, some of them were trying to sabotage the programme by enrolling grandchildren as their children.
He added that also they also enroll extra wives and partners as their wives and nieces and nephews as their children.
He, however, appealed to them to avoid practices that could joepardise the programme.
He said the organisation had offices in 24 states and FCT where retired personnel who had relocated to their villages could go and enroll.
Director, Joint Services, Ministry of Defence, Mrs Olu Mustapha, represented by the Deputy Director, Veteran Affairs Division, Dr Jude Alozie, said there had been low awareness on the activities of the agency among retirees.
Mustapha urged participants to be opened and make their honest contributions.
She assured them that the government would continue to care for them especially in the area of health.
The Secretary General, Nigerian Legion, retired Group Capt. Kayode Abe, said the meeting was long overdue because a lot of retirees and ex-servicemen were not truly aware of what the organisation had been doing.
Abe said that while many people retired and go to their villages, they had not been able to enroll into the programme to enable them benefit.
He said that one of the challenges encountered by those under the scheme was disparity in treatments in terms of quality of drugs.
According to him, the interactive session will be an avenue to expose all the shortcomings in the system.
“A lot of facts are coming up as to why we may not be able to have complete medical coverage under this arrangement.’’
He called on the services to provide more support for DHML to be able to provide better services to the veterans.