National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF)

After Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Susan Nakhumicha disclosed that the government was unable to provide money to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), patients who rely on the country's health insurer to cover their hospital expenses were compelled to shell out cash or forgo treatment.

Nakhumicha, who was interviewed by a local radio station yesterday, said that the country's financial position was so dire that the national insurance was still having trouble making ends meet, which is going to make life harder for the already overloaded Kenyans.

"Kenya is broke, and nobody can dispute that reality in the slightest. That is the full truth; the monetary crisis has even had an impact on NHIF. We are examining all potential solutions to determine how we can handle the matter. The enactment of the Finance Bill 2023 is among our greatest ideas for a solution. That is why it is so important to our president," she remarked.

"I want to reassure Kenyans that we met with the President this week to discuss the importance of the health sector in the nation. I advised him to prioritise the situation and hunt for money to pay the NHIF. He agreed, "she continued.

The approval of the Finance Bill 2023, according to the CS, would be the only long-term fix. Additionally, Nakhumicha said that hospitals presently owe the NHIF approximately Ksh20 billion.

 "We are negotiating with Treasury on how to release this money. Things will soon improve since the talks have advanced to an advanced level.

The administration, according to Nakhumicha, has established an advisory group that will strive to resolve the multiple health workers' strikes.

"We have established the Kenya Advisory Council, which will guide how to deal with health professionals employed by the counties and the federal government. Members of the Kenya Human Resource Advisory Council would be inaugurated in the next two weeks, "according to her.

Currently, around 80% of Kenyans rely on state insurance to cover their medical expenses.

A single dialysis session typically costs between Ksh9,500 and Ksh16,000. As a result of the present impasse, renal failure patients stand to suffer the most.

With NHIF coverage, clients are not required to pay anything, except if they go above the allotted three sessions per week.

Money not transferred

The majority of private hospitals have already stopped accepting NHIF and instead demand payment in cash or alternative care.

"We swore to look after the patients. Although we should do so, the current circumstances are really bad. " 

The chairman of the Rural Private Hospitals Association, Brian (RUPHA) Lishenga, said, "We have been unable to pay wages for over three months, and no one appears to listen to us."

Within the first 30 days of the capitated time frame, the insurer is required under the present contract to pay Ksh1,000 per beneficiary per year to health facilities on behalf of a beneficiary of the national system.

In addition, despite many letters of reassurance from the NHIF board, Lishenga pointed out that none of the funds had been sent to RUPHA.

"Please be notified that all of your capitation payment beneficiaries, those in the rural and small towns who pay Ksh 500 obediently every month, have exhausted their hospital credit limitations. 'Credit services' have been made available to them by hospitals for 60 days as of March 31, according to RUPHA.

Ruto's NHIF commitments

During his campaign, President William Ruto said that the NHIF would be a top priority for his administration in its efforts to make healthcare more accessible for everybody.

President Ruto revealed during Labour Day festivities that the government has revised the contribution mechanism and that individuals who pay Ksh500 would now contribute Ksh300 per month.

The president said that he will boost his Ksh27,500 donation to the fund from Ksh1,700.

"It is incomprehensible that the president must pay Ksh1,700 each month for NHIF while the average Mwananchi must pay Ksh600. The boda boda driver makes an average of Ksh 5,000, whereas I make Ksh 1 million each year. Is it rational?" Ruto asked.

Ruto announced, "Every one of us is going to contribute 2.7% of our earnings to NHIF so that we can carry this burden of health equally."

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU) is among the parties that have, however, opposed the plans.

According to Secretary General Davji Atellah, the president cannot argue that increasing worker deductions by up to 2.75 Percent of gross income would raise NHIF money when the government has cut NHIF funding.

"Civil workers' medical benefits were taken out of pay stubs to pay for NHIF's complete amenities. And now with medical coverage or pay raises," he stated.

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