Principal contributors to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) crossed the seven million mark last December on the back of a campaign that recruited new members from the informal sector.
Official data shows that the public health insurer added nearly a million members in the 18 months to December as the government pushes for increased medical insurance coverage through the fund.
The scheme, which is open to any Kenyan over the age of 18 years with a monthly income of over Sh1,000, has reached national coverage of about 25 million people who include contributors’ dependants, according to the NHIF chief executive, Geoffrey Mwangi.
The NHIF had 7.05 million members in December, up from 6.13 million members in June 2016. Mr Mwangi linked the membership jump to a drive to net more contributors from the informal sector.
“We need to recruit more members in the informal section. We are targeting about 15 million Kenyans in the informal sector who are not registered by NHIF,” Mr Mwangi said in an interview.
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Members from the informal sector — 3.1 million — now account for 44.2 per cent of NHIF contributors, up from 29 per cent in 2013.
The NHIF in 2015 introduced outpatient cover and enhanced benefits for ailments such as cancer and kidney dialysis after raising the amount that workers contribute to the fund from Sh320 to a graduated scale of between Sh500 and Sh1,700 per month.
In the six months to December, the NHIF collected Sh23.6 billion from its seven million members and paid Sh17.3 billion to hospitals as claims and used Sh3.2 billion for its expenses. The fund closed half-year with Sh3.1 billion surplus.
“We have put in place a three-month restriction on use of the card for self-employed contributors to avoid having people who only enrol when they are seeking services,” said Mr Mwangi.