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A report released this year shows that the cost of health insurance in Nigeria has ranked high among other African nations, while still featuring much lower in global comparisons. Leading global insurance advisor Pacific Prime’s Cost of Health Insurance Report 2016 (COHI) compared the premium prices of single, couple, family and retiree plans available in 95 locations, and provided an analysis of insurance cost trends around the world.

Nigerian costs for health insurance averaged USD 8,053 for 2016, placing it 63rd in the world but 4th most expensive when only accounting for African nations. Côte d’Ivoire came in as the most expensive African nation with an average cost of USD 8,296 for insurance, while Mali had the least expensive average insurance cost at USD 7,608. Mali in particular came in as the least expensive location for health insurance globally.

Accounting for the different types of plans available to consumers, the report also highlights the cost of insurance plans for singles, couples, families and retirees in each county. For each category, Nigeria ranks in the sixties when compared to the other 95 locations in terms of average costs for each personal situation, with singles paying the highest average and retirees paying the least.

“Nigeria still has a very small insurance market.” says Justin d’Anethan, Senior Consultant at Pacific Prime. “There are only a handful of insurers in the country, and they generally only offer plans to expatriates.” Foreign residents in Nigeria purchase international medical insurance plans for the access to better facilities and staff, despite the fact that services in the country are much less developed than in Western nations.

The reason for increasing health insurance costs around the world has been attributed to four factors: increased demand for international quality private care, increased cost for health care itself, increased regulation costs, and continuing challenges to the industry from fraud related activities. Nigeria’s long standing issues with health sector underinvestment and the brain drain of local medical experts are also likely to be impacting costs here too.

d’Anethan says that medical evacuation benefits for insurance policies are almost a necessity for residents of Nigeria. “If the sort of care you require is not available in Nigeria, a policy that allows for evacuation will cover the costs of transferring you to better equipped facilities in neighbouring countries like South Africa.” Unfortunately, covering evacuations can drive premiums up while taking money away from local Nigerian facilities.

The United States has continued to top the rankings as the most expensive place in the world for international individual plans, however this year’s COHI report shows that the gap between the USA and other locations has shrunk since 2015. This has been attributed to both an increase in most other nations for 2016, as well as an overall decrease in the average cost of US international insurance in the past year.

Other significant movements in the rankings this year have included Canada replacing Israel as one of the top four most expensive locations in the world, as well as Japan and many South American nations breaking into the top 20 for 2016. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, has had a special mention for this year’s report due to recent mandatory healthcare regulations impacting its high number of expat residents.

Source: Financial Watch Ng

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