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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Consult all stakeholders before raising health fees

National Hospital Insurance Fund
National Hospital Insurance Fund headquarters in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Reports that self-employed Kenyans will now be required to pay Sh6,000 before they can start using the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) card are worrying.

Also troubling is the revelation that the new measures will also make it nearly impossible for newly expectant mothers to use the service. For example, those intending to use the NHIF card for maternity may have to register before the pregnancy sets in or miss out on the benefits.

The waiting period for new members’ cards to mature has now been extended to three months, which will ultimately delay the benefits for voluntary contributors to access medical services. . The old rules required new members to wait for two months before they could start using the card

It is also shocking that the new fees were introduced without any thought about their the ramifications on the intended users.

Kenyans deserve to be told why the fee was increased to Sh6,000 from Sh1,500 for new members. The waiting period for new members’ cards to mature has now been extended to three months, which will ultimately delay the benefits for voluntary contributors to access medical services.

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That there were no public consultations is a clear case of our bureaucrats forcing through new measures with no care on their painful effects on the common man and woman.

Major stakeholders were kept in the dark ahead of January 1 rollout. Why didn’t the organisation see the need to consult with the general public and medical service providers?

It is a self-defeating exercise that only exposes the policymakers as an uncaring lot. What Kenyans require is a health service that is affordable and accessible.

That is the only way the country can attain the universal health coverage goal. Locking out a significant segment of the society by hiking fees will hamper service delivery.

It is a complete paradox since the rolling out of the new charges defeats the goal of enabling all Kenyans to access quality and affordable health services

We concur that the new charges are not only punitive but will ultimately derail the universal health coverage goal

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) rightly warns that the move will make it impossible for low-income Kenyans to access health services One must also wonder why the NHIF rushed to roll out the new charges without mulling the consequences.

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