NHIF should put its house in order, be more accountable
SEE ALSO :Rot of the heartJust last month, the Parliamentary Committee on Health questioned the current CEO on payments made by NHIF for treatment abroad. They revealed that during the period 2018/19 a whooping Sh17 billion was paid by NHIF for medical services abroad. The MPs argued that the poor were subsidising treatment for the rich a point that was disputed by the NHIF management. Yet, when the conditions for accessing treatment outside the country are not freely available, the poor are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to health care protection. I have not heard of any working class member travelling abroad for treatment under the NHIF scheme. It behoves NHIF then to open their records and reveal who have benefited from treatment outside the country. The MPs also revealed that during the same period Sh22 billion was paid to private hospitals and a mere Sh7 billion to public hospitals. That is another disturbing statistic. The revamped NHIF definitely has achieved a lot in a short period of time, verified by experiences shared by beneficiaries. Yet, despite the progress made there are still only 8.5 million Kenyans registered as members. The informal sector can register and make their payments of Sh500 per month while the formally employed pay between Sh500 and Sh1,700 per month. Yet, according to a World Bank report only 3 per cent of the very poor are registered. That is a far cry from the commitment of Jubilee to provide universal health coverage. Indeed, many employed people are already covered by their own private or employer health insurance. NHIF collected Sh47.8 billion in contributions in 2017/18. Thirty three billion was collected under the national scheme while the balance was remitted under the premium scheme designed for civil servants. It would be interesting then to show what percentage of the contributions goes to the public or are those on the premium scheme getting a disproportionate share as the ones who are benefiting from treatment abroad at the expense of the common worker. In other words, are the working people paying for premium treatment for government workers? This is not an accusation but a valid question that everyone has a right to ask. There is a lot of goodwill towards NHIF but that feel-good factor should not be exploited. There must be more open public disclosures about their audited accounts and more accessible information to the public on the entitlements and services available to members. Thirty years ago the NSSF scheme fell apart through mismanagement, fraud, and political interference. This must not be allowed to happen with NHIF as the health and hopes of millions of Kenyans are at stake. - Gabriel Dolan [email protected] @GabrielDolan1
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.