The Ruto administration plans to compel Hustler Fund borrowers to enroll into the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) in a proposed drive to actualise the long-delayed rollout of the universal health coverage scheme.
Co-operatives and Small Enterprises Cabinet Secretary, Simon Chelugui, disclosed Thursday that his ministry was in advanced discussions with NHIF with a view to channelling part of the borrowed cash from Hustler Fund to the national health insurance scheme.
“Alongside that (borrowing) are bespoke products which we will be launching. On universal health coverage, NHIF is engaging with us with a view of also taking out Sh17 per day from this hustler and putting it in their health insurance,” Mr Chelugui told a manufacturing SMEs convention in Nairobi. “This amount will assure them of medical and accident expenses. At least when a hustler is hurt or gets into an accident or is sick, he can walk to any hospital and they are treated and released. No one will be detained anymore.”
Mr Chelugui did not give details of how the cash, which roughly works out to the current Sh500 minimum monthly premiums NHIF charges people in the informal sector, will be deducted from borrowers.
Kenya has for more than two decades struggled to implement universal health coverage (UHC) even after pilots in Kisumu, Nyeri, Machakos and Isiolo counties.
The rollout of the UHC is aimed at cutting out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred largely by families in the informal sector to offset hospital bills which pushes about 1.5 million Kenyans into poverty every year, according to conservative estimates.
President William Ruto has vowed to implement UHC which the previous two administrations failed to actualize in a highly informal economy despite featuring prominently in their campaign manifestos.
The rollout has been hampered with NHIF previously disclosing that more than half of registered members are not paying premiums, hurting its ability to collect enough money for paying hospital bills under UHC.
Dr Ruto has pledged to leverage technology and reduce minimum monthly premiums to implement UHC.