Why NHIF card won’t be useful in rural Kenya from Wednesday

The National Hospital Insurance Fund building in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Over 350 rural hospitals will from, Wednesday, reject National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) cards and instead demand that patients pay in cash, following the failure of the public insurer to disburse funds.

The Rural Private Hospitals Association of Kenya (Rupha) says the NHIF Board has not remitted a single coin to the healthcare facilities in the April-June 2023 quarter making them unable to pay salaries as well as some layoffs.

Rupha representing healthcare centres across 43 counties, notes that despite numerous assurances from the NHIF Board since April indicating that payments would be made, their accounts remain empty.

“As a result of the board’s failure to honour its financial commitments, the health facilities under the Rupha are left with no other recourse but to issue an immediate notice that beneficiaries of the NHIF Capitated Schemes will be required to make cash payments to access services, effective from May 31, 2023,” said Rupha chairman Brian Lishenga in a letter to NHIF chairman Michael Kamau.

In April the healthcare centres operating in rural and urban underserved populations such as Kangemi, Kayole in Nairobi and Kisauni in Mombasa, resorted to charging NHIF beneficiaries fixed rates –under co-pay arrangements— for services rendered, where the balance is covered by the insurer.

In a recent social media post, the association notified NHIF cardholders seeking outpatient services that they had depleted their credit limits with the hospitals and would thus be required to pay cash.

“Hospitals have offered them “credit services” for 60 days now since March 31…our nurses, cleaners and clerks are without salaries for two months now,” read the post.

Under the contract with Rupha, the NHIF Board is to pay to the health facility, for a beneficiary of the national scheme, a capitation of Sh1,000 per beneficiary per annum within the first 30 days of the capitated period.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.