It now costs Sh200,000 to deliver in private hospital


Nurses attend to expectant women in hospital. File Photo | NMG

The average cost of delivering a baby in Kenya’s top hospitals has risen to a new high of Sh205,500, a 13 per cent increase from Sh181,111 two years ago, according to the latest market data.

Hospitals said the steep surge in costs is linked to recent introduction of new taxes on medical equipment and medical workers’ agitation for higher wages that have inflated costs across the sector.

An AON Kenya Insurance Brokers market report shows that the cost of normal and Caesarean section deliveries rose 30 per cent in major hospitals such as Karen, MP Shah and Avenue in the past couple of years.

At Karen Hospital, for instance, the cost of normal delivery rose from Sh100,000 to Sh110,000 in the general wards while Caesarean section deliveries now cost Sh200,000 in the general wards up from Sh180,000 two years ago.

Those booked in private rooms pay Sh140,000 for normal delivery while a private room for Caesarean section costs Sh230,000 for patients staying up to three nights.

Nairobi South Hospital made the highest price leap at Sh100,00 for normal delivery from Sh35,000 in 2016, while a C-section now costs Sh120,000.

Kenyatta National Hospital did not escape the surge in prices in the referral care unit where a Caesarean section now costs between Sh150,000 to Sh200,000.

KNH acting clinical services director Dr Peter Masinde attributed the surge in prices to higher taxation of medical commodities.

“This does not only affect maternity services but all health functions. The taxes on consumables and medical equipment that were not there initially is the reason most services now cost more,” he said.

At Nairobi’s MP Shah Hospital a C-section costs Sh220,000, but escalates to Sh250,000 if appointment is booked after 32 weeks of pregnancy. A normal delivery costs Sh99,000, but the hospital charges Sh150,000 if a woman books an appointment to deliver at the hospital when she is past 32 weeks pregnant.

Avenue Hospital which levied the lowest fees of Sh55,000 for normal delivery in 2016 is now offering the same services at Sh50,000. Caesarean section delivery now costs Sh190,000 up from Sh165,000 in 2016 while an emergency C-section can cost up to Sh210,000.

Dr Nelly Bosire, a Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, said the taxes have had a significant effect on the pricing of health services, especially with the frequent exchange rates fluctuation.

“We import nearly all medical commodities and that means there are outside factors beyond our control. Prices of almost all products have been rising and the private entities have to meet their costs,” she said.

Dr Bosire added said maternity services are priced in line with the cost of drugs, doctor fees and other services and any slight price increase in these segments leads to overall rise in charges.

The recent pay increase for medical practitioners in the public sector has also become a big driver of the cost of maternity services in private hospitals, she said.

“After the 2016 doctors strike there was a pay increase for doctors in the public sector and those in the private sector have also pushed for pay increase leading to the increase prices in private hospitals to pay their doctors competitive salaries,” she said.

Thousands of women each year still choose private maternity care and there are benefits to going through the private system such as having the same obstetrician and midwife throughout the pregnancy.

That however is coming at a high cost because the majority of hospitals are now charging fees that are above the average insurance cover limits, forcing patients to top up in cash.

Customer Service Manager at Managed Medical Care Minet Kenya John Matalanga said most charges are now above what is covered.

“We advise companies who take insurance covers for the clients on the ideal cover but with the high costs those who cannot increase premiums for the members leave their employees to pay out of pocket for the services,” he said.

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