As the state lines up a health cover for all Kenyans, each household will soon make a compulsory Ksh. 500 contribution per month to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said each household will be required to pay Ksh. 6,000 annually to be enrolled in a Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheme. The scheme will be for outpatient and inpatient services, including maternity, dialysis, cancer treatment and surgery.
The planned mandatory NHIF membership for all Kenyans will be different from the current scheme, where only it is only workers in the formal sector who are are required to join the insurance scheme.
The State has offered to sponsor one million poor households at the onset of the UHC scheme, which is modelled on the US’s Obamacare that requires all Americans to buy insurance cover.
The Treasury secretary said the plans to roll out the State-backed health insurance were at an advanced stage, with the collection of the beneficiaries’ data already underway.
The Health Ministry said a proposed law on the management of the UHC scheme would be tabled in Parliament soon.
The nearly similar universal health cover in the US known as Obamacare is anchored on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires everyone to have a health cover and imposes a tax penalty on those who fail to purchase a health insurance plan.
The insurance plan, however, offers subsidies to those who cannot afford a plan on their own through tax credits and paying insurance companies to keep their deductibles low.
When former President Mwai Kibaki took office, the Health ministry introduced a minimal user fee for primary healthcare facilities. The National Social Health Insurance Fund Bill introduced in 2004 proposed that the State pays Ksh. 11 billion to the NHIF annually to meet the insurance costs for the poor.
After years of lobbying the NHIF raised workers’ contributions from Ksh. 320 to a graduated scale of between Ksh. 500 and Ksh. 1,700 per month based on each worker’s monthly pay. The scheme also introduced an outpatient cover for contributors and enhanced benefits for specialized treatment such as cancer and kidney dialysis.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is making another attempt to give all Kenyans health cover by 2022 after rolling out a pilot in four counties; Machakos, Nyeri, Isiolo and Kisumu.
The State-backed NHIF is the biggest health insurer in the country with a coverage of 15.8%, which is equivalent to over 80% of the total population with any form of health insurance in Kenya.
NHIF membership had grown from 4.4 million in 2013 to 8.4 million in 2019, according to the latest Economic Survey, which is 70% of the 12.1 million households.