This article will explain four major means of funding medical expenses in Nigeria, along with their pros and cons. It will also provide you with examples of reliable online platforms where you can find money to offset your bills.

Medical Fundraising

Medical fundraising, or crowdfunding, is the process of seeking donations from people in order to fund your medical expenses. This is the most suitable method of raising money for hospital bills that you can’t personally afford.

It allows your community and strangers to assist you and empowers you to raise funds from as many people as possible. In the past, people used to seek these donations from their friends and families personally, but now there are online platforms that support you. One such crowdfunding website is Helpa.

Helpa is a reliable healthcare fundraising app that gives people with critical illnesses a chance at survival. We have a simple app with step-by-step videos to help you launch successful campaigns. As a plus, we have a wide reach that enables people to seek and receive financial support from thousands of people. 

Pros

  • You can receive different magnitudes of donations from different people across the world.
  • Crowdfunding can help you reach your goal faster. You can raise enough money for brain surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
  • There is no payback or interest on the amount raised.

Cons

  • Some crowdfunding platforms charge a cutthroat commission. Helpa charges only 2%!

Health Insurance

This method involves converting expensive future health expenses into small, affordable monthly payments that can be budgeted in advance. It is a form of agreement between individuals and insurance companies whereby you make monthly payments while the company pays the bulk sum for your treatment.

With the rising cost of healthcare in Nigeria, it may be wise to have a health insurance safety net. There are three types of health insurance available to Nigerians, and they include:

Social Health Insurance: This kind is provided by the government for all its working citizens and retirees. An example of this is the National Health Insurance Authority, which covers a wide range of health benefits for people in exchange for 7% of their monthly income. It is open to students, workers in the formal and informal sectors, and their dependents.

Employer-based Insurance: As the name implies, it is provided by your employer through a private third-party insurance company, in exchange for a fraction of your salary.

If you can afford it, you may decide to buy a private insurance plan outside of your employer or government insurance. It’s a form of two-step protection.

Pros

  • There is a large pool of funds available for you.
  • Insurance plans can cover expensive treatments such as major investigations, surgeries, and chemotherapy.
  • Insurance companies cover most or all of your bills, depending on your plan and payment.
  • Monthly payments are hardly affected by inflation.
  • It protects you against any future illness.

Cons

  • You must contribute regularly, whether you fall ill or not.
  • It requires a long-term prepayment. You can’t just buy an insurance plan when the illness has set in and expect it to cover your bills.
  • There is no room for a refund if you don’t fall ill.
  • Insurance companies require you to provide tons of proof of ill health and paperwork before paying your bills.
  • There is a risk of dealing with fraudulent private insurance companies. Do thorough research!

Dedicated Healthcare Savings

A dedicated healthcare savings is an accumulation of funds overtime kept for the purpose of paying medical bills. This is different from sudden, unexpected out-of-pocket payment, where medical treatment eats deep into money set aside for other important goals

It could be a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly contribution deducted from your income into a separate account. You can do this alone or with a small group of people (3-5). To foster discipline with regards to regular contribution and reckless withdrawals, you may want to create separate accounts, or use platforms such as PiggyVest and Cowrywise that have strict withdrawal policies.

Pros

  • It is perfect first-line funding for medical bills, especially before the insurance company pays and crowdfunding gathers momentum.
  • You don’t have to undergo excessive paperwork or tedious verification before gaining access to your savings.
  • The decision of how much and how often to contribute is completely up to you.

Cons

  • It is only sufficient as an extra source of medical payment. Even with savings, most people don’t make enough money to fund major treatments such as surgeries.
  • You may not contribute as and when due because you’re in charge.
  • On the other hand, there is a tendency to withdraw the money for another purpose, leaving yourself vulnerable.
  • With small group savings, the accumulated amount might not be adequate to cover individual health risks. 

Charitable Organisations

If you’ve been looking for ways to pay your hospital bills without insurance, medical charity is the way to go. There are several charitable organizations in Nigeria committed to helping people access quality healthcare at zero cost to patients.

While some of them pay your medical bills, others ensure that the service is free of charge. In addition, some organizations specialize in certain areas, while others cover a wide range of medical expenses.

Examples are:

  • Smile Train for cleft lip and palate surgery
  • Visitahospital supports general conditions such as accidents, pregnancy, and childcare
  • Kanu Heart Foundation for Heart Defect Surgery¬†
  • Medicaid Cancer Foundation for early diagnosis and treatment of cancer

Pros

  • They offer free medical assistance or pay the bills of people who are in greatest need.
  • Many of them offer free screening and early diagnosis of diseases.

Cons

  • These organizations often don’t cover the cost of major treatments such as surgeries, chemotherapy, MRIs, endoscopies, and so on.
  • They can’t support many people at a time. Selection is highly competitive.
  • Poor publicity exists for their activities, especially for organizations like Smile Train. You may not be aware when they offer free surgeries.

Takeaway

Although there are multiple ways to get support for medical treatment, there are also many factors to consider when choosing options. It is safer to make your decisions ahead of time so they can protect you when the need arises. It may be too late to start once the symptoms are already obvious.

Do you know anyone who needs financial help for medical treatment? I recommend Helpa, the best crowdfunding platform for Nigerians.