This Wednesday morning, thousands of patients trooping to hospitals in rural Kenya with their NHIF cards are in for a rude shock.
The private health facilities, sick of the national insurer’s mind games that have left them limping financially, have resolved they will demand that patients pay in cash.
If they are lucky, they will limp to the nearest and most likely understaffed, underequipped, and overcrowded public hospital to save life and limb.
That is the sorry state of our healthcare.
Despite collecting billions of shillings from members, the private rural hospitals say the NHIF has not remitted a single coin. And no satisfactory answer has been forthcoming, just goal-shifting.
This is unfortunate and does not serve to instil confidence in an institution whose reputation needs urgent repair.
It neither sends the message that members are getting value for money nor does it paint the picture of a fund working towards the State's Universal Healthcare Coverage plan.
The NHIF should get its act together and live up to its mandate. That calls for averting the unnecessary suffering it is causing the insured.
Pay the hospitals!