Employees of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) have a one-year transition window before reapplying for jobs when the 57-year-old State agency is split into three outfits as part of planned reforms.
The Social Health Insurance Bill 2023, which seeks to disband NHIF and create a Social Health Authority to administer three funds, says in the transitional clauses that the Authority will take over all NHIF assets but only absorb its workers based on merit.
The NHIF workers willing to serve under the Social Health Authority that will be in charge of the primary healthcare, healthcare, and emergency, chronic, and critical illness funds will have to reapply.
National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah said the NHIF staff will only serve for a transition period of one year before applying for jobs under the new outfit, others will be re-deployed and the rest allowed to retire voluntarily.
“I know there are fears when it comes to changes. People have been fearful including the staffers of NHIF that with the enactment of this Bill, they lose their jobs, I want to assure our hard-working staff at NHIF, so long as you have not engaged in corruption, [you are a] diligent worker, you shall not lose your job. No Kenyan will lose their job on account of a Bill being enacted,” Mr Ichung’wah said when he contributed to the debate on the Social Health Insurance Bill 2023 in Parliament.
“The reason you are asked to re-apply is so that the new organisation gets the best out of NHIF others can be re-deployed,” he added
Endebes MP Robert Pukose who is also the chairman of the Health committee, said they have agreed with the board to assess the NHIF workers and only retain those with the right skills.
“If there is a mismatch, for instance, if you are a geologist, what are you doing at NHIF? You should be taken to the geology department in the Ministry of Public Works to offer your services there, you can’t be at NHIF,” he said.
“We have people in NHIF who have been involved in corruption activities, especially in areas of procurement. Why should they still be there? We want to ensure that this new NHIF can offer services,” he added.
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya said there has been a lot of lobbying by the current NHIF staff who are seeking to be retained in the new body.
However, Mr Baya explained that it will not make any sense if the government is reforming NHIF but moves with everything, including the staff to the new outfit.
“How do you reform an organisation by taking up everything that was on the other side; changing the name, and saying you have reformed? This is the time to separate chaff from the wheat,” Mr Baya said.
"Those that have been the bad eggs at NHIF can’t join the new organisation but I want to see fairness so that those that have done well continue to do well in the new organisation while those that haven’t done well to pave the way for others,” he added.