NHIF expands road emergency ambulance services to all members


What you need to know:

  • NHIF chief executive, Geoffrey Mwangi told the Business Daily that the Fund has partnered with the Kenya Red Cross Society through its Eplus Limited subsidiary to roll the service nationwide.
  • It is not yet clear how many ambulances are at disposal to cater for the growing number of NHIF beneficiaries across the country.
  • Official data shows that NHIF membership grew by 15.1 per cent last year and crossed the six million mark on the back of a campaign that recruited new members from the informal sector.

NHIF members will get emergency ambulance evacuation services in a new deal signed between the Red Cross Society and the State insurer.

The ambulances will be available to members who need emergency medical treatment from their homes or in road accidents.

National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi on Wednesday said it would cost Sh490 million every year to provide the service through Red Cross’ subsidiary, Eplus Limited.

Civil servants have been entitled to NHIF evacuations in the past three years.

“You don’t need to get on a boda boda or Probox to rush to hospital in time of an emergency. All you need now is to call the Red Cross toll free helpline – 1199 – at any time of day or night and you will get the service,” said Mr Mwangi. The NHIF boss said the cost to the State insurer is discounted based on past usage trends of the service.

NHIF has a membership of more than 6.13 million.

The enhanced benefits include emergency care on site and provision of pre-hospital care on transit in “specially designed” ambulances.

Transportation and transfer of a sick member or dependent by road for treatment to the nearest NHIF accredited health facility is also included.

“We did open sourcing (for the evacuation service) competitively. Rolling the enhanced benefits nationwide will make more economical sense while adding more value as NHIF will still pay for the same subscription but to a bigger population,” said Mr Mwangi.

Members will not be required to pay any additional fees to get the service.

This means the monthly Sh500 that NHIF members in the informal sector have been contributing to the scheme remains the same.

The same applies to those in the formal sector who have been contributing between Sh150 to Sh1,700, as per their job groups.

The 226,000 civil servants, including the police, had been getting both air and road emergency evacuations.

The number of civil servants has since reduced to 133,402 currently, where NHIF paid Sh83.2 million for the benefits.

Emergency air rescue is currently only available to civil servants spread across the country in partnership with AMREF Flying Doctors – for transportation and transfer of injured beneficiaries to health facilities.

The AMREF Sh875-per-family air rescue package includes two evacuation flights per year per member and two ground ambulance transfers per year within Kenya for civil servants.

This costs NHIF roughly Sh218 million per year payable to AMREF.

The new enhanced benefits will see other NHIF members get only the road evacuation services offered by Kenya Red Cross Society, at Sh30 per month per member (Sh360 per year).

“When calling simply state your name, NHIF number, telephone contact, location or facility and nature of emergency. The nearest available ambulance shall be dispatched to the location or site immediately after verifying membership validity,” said Mr Mwangi.

“The value of an insurance cover is to know that you will get help in time of an emergency and that is what we are giving. NHIF has now covered everything and only ICU and HDU services are remaining – we shall be including them too in future.”

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