NHIF to allow men cover for multiple wives and mistresses for KSh 500

 

National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cover multiple wives
NHIF building.


If Parliament passes the proposed bill, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) would issue rules allowing males to get medical coverage for numerous spouses, breaking with medical insurance conventions.


One of the rules says that medical costs are covered for polygamous families as long as the man pays an extra Sh500 for each additional wife.


This differs from the present NHIF regulations, which only apply to one spouse and a maximum of five children.


For medical coverage, the majority of private insurance companies, particularly those supported by employers, recognize the principal member, one registered spouse, and up to four children.


People who have two spouses are often required to have a second cover for the second wife who is the primary member.


After more than eight years since former President Uhuru Kenyatta passed a law that made polygamy legal, the NHIF has decided to recognize more than one wife.

 

It aligned civil law (where a man was only permitted to have one wife) with customary law, permitting males to marry additional women without first consulting their current husbands.


A new provision in the reprinted rules states that "when a typical donor names more than one spouse as a beneficiary, the contributor should remit an extra payment to the Fund."


The sub-regulation states that the supplementary contribution rate for each spouse is to be at the rate of sh500.


Before the government approves the new rates and the rule that helps members with more than one spouse, the NHIF is asking the public what they think about the proposed rules.


According to information from the Kenya Population and Housing Census, about 1.5 million Kenyans, or 10% of the married population, are involved in polygamous unions.


Women's rights groups, on the other hand, say that this number is way too low because most of these unions are informal and not recorded.


Many ladies don't even realize they share a spouse since he could keep them in different houses without telling them.


Polygamy continues to be legal in the majority of African countries and is pervasive across society, from farmers to senior politicians and top executives, despite increasing modernity and knowledge of women's rights. Church leaders in Kenya have said that the part of the marriage law that allows polygamy goes against the principles of the Christian family and marriage.


 

The law also banned traditional marriages that were not registered and could end without going through a formal divorce process.


The Insurance Act hasn't been updated to reflect the change even though the marriage-related law was passed eight years ago.


According to Julius Kipng'etich, chief executive of Jubilee Holdings, "The legislation as it is written presently allows for one wife. Therefore, extra beneficiaries are included in our contracts at the moment."


Under the new law, the NHIF wants employees who make more than Sh100,000 per month to pay more each month. This means that employees and businesses will have to pay more.


The fund wants employees making more than Sh100,000 to contribute 1.7 percent of their gross income to the plan, republishing rules that were rejected by Parliament before the August 8 general election.


The new premium represents a change from the current system, which requires workers earning more than Sh100,000 to make a set Sh1,700 monthly payment to the NHIF.


After Parliament rejected the proposal to raise the monthly payments, the public health insurance gave up its effort to make the highest earners contribute more in August.


Weeks after President Ruto approved the idea of having the wealthy pay higher monthly premiums to the NHIF, there has been a fresh push for the high rates.


If the laws are put into place, contributions from employees making Sh200,000 would climb to Sh3,400, doubling their monthly obligation, while those making Sh500,000 will see a five-fold increase to Sh8,500.


Companies that haven't yet recovered from the coronavirus-caused slump that led to job cuts, hiring freezes, and business closures will take another hit because employers who haven't offered better private insurance coverage will have to match their employees' monthly contributions to the NHIF.



The extra payments would add tens of billions of shillings to the NHIF's coffers. The NHIF collected Sh80.43 billion from employees in the fiscal year that ended in June, making it one of Kenya's wealthiest state-backed businesses.


The new rules are a part of the legislation that made contributions to the NHIF mandatory for all adult Kenyans.


Since its last rate change in April 2015, the NHIF is trying to bring in more money so it can cover more diseases like cancer and give everyone in Kenya health insurance.


It increased employee contributions from Sh320 to a graded scale depending on a monthly income of between Sh500 and Sh1,700. The addition of outpatient coverage for contributors and improved benefits for specialized care like cancer chemotherapy and renal dialysis led to increased costs.


The new law doesn't say anything about whether the fund's benefits would go up because its annual income has nearly doubled.


But the fund is looking for more funding to handle the anticipated increase in new members, particularly from the unofficial sector, who pay Sh500 monthly.


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