NHIF default rates call for innovation


The National Health Insurance Fund building in Nairobi in this photo taken on February 9, 2022. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

About 8.8 million Kenyans defaulted on their monthly contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) in the year ended June 2022, effectively condemning them to out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The latest data from the public health insurer shows that the number of dormant members hit 8.8 million from 5.03 million the year before, with the majority blaming economic hardship.

The number in default represents 43 percent of the NHIF membership and this should worry policymakers as they prepare to roll out Universal Health Coverage, whose success will be pegged on the ability of registered members to keep up with their monthly contributions.

The default partly explains why the insurer missed its Sh90.57 billion targeted premium collections for the review period.

Voluntary contributors pay Sh500 a month while those in the formal sector contribute between Sh150 and Sh1,700.

It is important for the government to put in place mechanisms to mitigate these defaults and encourage members to contribute. It also calls for more innovative ways to ensure members pay up.