EDITORIAL: NHIF crackdown on fraud a welcome step

NHIF Building in Nairobi's Upperhill Area. FILE PHOTO | NMG
NHIF Building in Nairobi's Upperhill Area. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

The move by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to stop payments to private service providers it accuses of fraud is quite commendable.

It is shocking to learn that many of these institutions have been filing fraudulent claims for diagnostic tests that have not been done.

NHIF announced that it had suspended paying for diagnostic tests such as MRI and CT-scan at hundreds of small and medium-sized private facilities.

It also promised to publish a list of the offending institutions in coming weeks.

Patients will now have to access the services at reputable hospitals and only after obtaining authorisation letters from the institutions that will have to be approved by NHIF.

When the NHIF introduced outpatient cover and enhanced benefits for chronic ailments such as cancer and kidney dialysis in 2015, many Kenyans were optimistic that the health burden would be eased.

The Fund’s enhanced cover has seen the national health insurer benefit low income households as patients are now able to access treatment.

The suspension of payments should be a wake-up call for greedy medical providers that the era of viewing taxpayers’ funds as a bottomless pit of free money is no longer tenable.

This endemic culture of preying on the hard-earned monies belonging to Kenyans should not be tolerated.

We urge the NHIF to ensure that it prosecutes these fraudsters so as to deter others.

Those found guilty of stealing public money through fraud must  also pay back what they have taken.

The only way the country can eradicate the culture of corruption is if we enhanced the punishment for guilty parties.

Sending the culprits to prison and surcharging them by impounding their ill-gotten wealth would send out a strong message that it is no longer business as usual.