Make national health cover operations efficient

The National Hospital Insurance Fund building in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The plan to enhance contributions to fund healthcare should be matched with improved management to ensure the government delivers on universal healthcare (UHC) goals.

The State plans to replace the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) with three separate funds—one for preventive and primary health care, another for primary referrals, and a third for treatment of chronic diseases.

The three will be funded through the proposed increased contributions, where salaried workers will be expected to contribute 2.75 percent of their gross pay, subject to a maximum of Sh5,000, as opposed to the current rates of between Sh150 and Sh1,700.

Such an increase in contributions, added to that from the informal sector should deliver UHC for Kenyans. Just under 30 percent of Kenyans have any form of insurance and a successful roll-out of UHC can save them from out-of-pocket spending towards health.

The State should ensure it enrols public and private hospitals that have facilities, personnel and drugs to save patients from out-of-pocket spending

The three funds should be prudently managed so that administrative costs do not end up becoming a new cash cow for a few individuals at the expense of Kenyans.

Incidents such as those witnessed early this year where NHIF defaulted on payments and made a number of hospitals pull the plug on patients should become a thing of the past.

Only by delivering UHC can the government justify the planned increase in contributions.

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