Providing healthcare for less than a dollar: An insight into WellaHealth’s journey

Expanding health insurance coverage in Nigeria and easing access to quality and timely healthcare services.

Africa faces significant health challenges, topping the chart of undiagnosed diabetes and accounting for most global malaria mortality. In Nigeria, with over 200 million people, the health sector is vastly underfunded, with public spending of about 4% of the nation’s GDP on healthcare, leaving over 97% of Nigerians without health insurance and forcing households to pay unplanned out-of-pocket for around 72% of their health expenses. Evidently, the  5.75% budget allocation for the health sector is a far cry from the 15% health allocation commitment made by the African Union leaders in 2001.

With the negative effect of poor healthcare access on quality of life and increasing digital adoption across Africa, there is a need to remodel healthcare coverage across the continent to become more inclusive of the underserved populace and responsive to growing medical demands. In direct response to these negative health trends, WellaHealth emerged in 2017 with cutting-edge health solutions that leverage medical facilities, HMO resources, and digital technologies to make quality healthcare accessible nationwide.

Since its inception, WellaHealth has rapidly expanded coverage and scope of medical services, launching the enhanced WellaHealth 2.0 and acquiring the online health platform, Wellvis in 2022 to strengthen its telemedicine capabilities to provide quick consultations and responsive medical services. Its commitment to innovate and bring quality medical care closer to the people has recently achieved a landmark recognition of featuring at Times Square and was named by Norrsken Foundation as one of the 100 most impactful global startups driving positive change. “Today, only three percent  of Nigerians are covered by any formal health plan in the country, meaning that more Nigerians, over 97 percent, pay from their pocket for health services that could hitherto be covered by a health scheme like WellaHealth’s and save them from unplanned health expenditure,” says Joseph Okoroafor, Head of Marketing & Communications.

Over the last few years, WellaHealth has been selected for the $100,000 PandemicTech Innovation Fellowship, joined the Catalyst Fund backed by UK Aid and JP Morgan Chase, marked World Stroke Day with free blood pressure tests for over 100,000 Nigerians across its 600 partner pharmacies, partnered with Verve to provide quality and affordable healthcare access to Verve cardholders, partnered with state governments to expand operations across Nigeria, grew partner pharmacies, from 600, by nearly 350% to over 2000, partnered with Stanbic IBTC to include WellaHealth insurance subscription functionality to the Stanbic IBTC @ease module, partnered with Piggyvest for its CSR to provide malaria health cover to Nigerians, and was subsequently shortlisted for the to receive funding from Google’s $4 million Black Founders Fund (BFF).

The WellaHealth mandate revolves around easing access to high-quality healthcare, reducing the need for self-medication, and eliminating massive unplanned out-of-pocket health expenses for the over 97% of Nigerians not covered by formal health plans. So far, WellaHealth provides affordable healthcare coverage for common illnesses, chronic diseases, maternity care, hospital visits, medical tests, and telemedicine, among others, to well over 10,000 Nigerians monthly and remains committed to bringing access to affordable medical care to every corner of the nation. “Initially starting with malaria coverage, WellaHealth has expanded to cover consultation for other common illnesses and infections and now chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Users can get all these and even diet plans for as low as N800 per month at their nearest pharmacy,” says Dr. Ikpeme Neto, WellaHealth CEO.

Looking at the future, WellaHealth is developing an enhanced Partnership for Good Initiative with companies seeking to deploy health plans for their customers and communities and putting together a Holiday Giving Initiative offering people the avenue to cover the health benefits of others. WellaHealth provides access to quality healthcare service to underserved Nigerians through micro health insurance plans starting at less than a dollar per month. We are helping Nigerians lead a healthier and hassle-free life without the need to self-medicate by making health services very affordable and easy to access.

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