Civil servants seek new insurer after NHIF exit

Union of Kenya Civil Servants Secretary General Tom Odege (centre), Deputy Secretary Jerry ole Kina (left) and National Organising Secretary Ali Sokor during a press conference in Nairobi yesterday. [David Njaaga, Standard]
Civil servants have asked the Government to start the process of procuring an alternative health insurance scheme ahead of the looming expiry of their State cover.

The Union of Kenya Civil Servants (UKCS) Secretary General Tom Odege yesterday said that the announcement by acting Treasury CS Ukur Yattani that the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is not authorised to provide private insurance cover would lock out 133,000 civil servants.

Mr Odege, who accused the government of 'disowning' NHIF, said the union's contract with the State body that was signed in 2012 was expiring at the end of the current financial year and called for a private alternative to be set up.

“We are calling upon the ministry of Public Service and the National Treasury to call all stakeholders and those benefiting from NHIF as we chart the way forward,” said Odege at a press briefing in Nairobi.

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Private insurers

He added: “We don’t want our members to be out of scheme come July. We want a clear agreement on how we are going to procure a new scheme whether with NHIF or private insurers."

Odege, who is also the Nyatike MP, assured civil servants that they would continue enjoying benefits from the State insurer until a new alternative was found.

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“When we listened to the Treasury CS when he was quoting Section 19 where he said NHIF is not authorised to provide private insurance cover, and went forward to say that civil servants and police will not continue enjoying services, most of our members panicked.

“The contract we have with NHIF is binding up to the end of June. Between now and then, members will still receive services as stipulated in the contract,” the union official said.

Odege said it was a "shame" that it had taken the government almost a decade to realise that the NHIF was offering an illegal service.

“I don't want to believe that Section 19 cannot be amended,” he said.

He added that it was a wake-up call for the government on the way NHIF was run. “We risk having a moribund fund that does not achieve its obligations because the way it is managed is opaque."

Odege also criticised new punitive NHIF regulations that elicited an outcry but said they were still "suggestions" because they were yet to be tabled in Parliament.

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Civil servantsNHIFUKCSTom Odege