Top earners to pay more for NHIF

The NHIF building
The NHIF building in Community, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Top income earners will pay more in monthly contributions to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) in quest to boost the State insurer’s services, Deputy President William Ruto revealed on Monday.

Mr Ruto said the higher fees will allow the NHIF to boost its services to the poor without hurting the fund’s finances.

The proposal comes barely three years after the NHIF raised workers contributions from Sh320 to a graduated scale of between Sh500 and Sh1,700 per month based on monthly pay.

The higher fees came with the introduction of outpatient cover for contributors and enhanced benefits for specialised treatment such as cancer and kidney dialysis.

“We intend to review the remittances to NIHF so as to match what we earn. Those who earn higher salaries can pay more to NHIF compared to those who earn less,” said Mr Ruto without giving details.

He said the maximum monthly contribution of Sh1,700 for the high earners “was too little.”

Workers earning above Sh100,000 pay the maximum monthly contribution of Sh1,700.

The push for higher monthly contributions comes amid government’s quest to provide universal healthcare to Kenyans through the State-backed Fund.

Mr Ruto did not give details when the higher rates will take effect.

His remarks come on the backdrop of ongoing amendments to the NHIF Act that will require business owners to match workers’ monthly contributions to the fund.

Employers have opposed the proposed changes saying they have the potential to over-burden business owners who are already paying private health insurance for their employees.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) reckons the reviews will raise the cost of doing business in Kenya which can in turn hurt the economy.

Uptake of medical cover in private insurers dropped for the first time in history last year, on competition from the NHIF, which is being readied for the planned universal healthcare by 2022.