President Uhuru stops NHIF new membership rules

President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Mombasa.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the Ministry of Health to suspend the proposed changes of insurance benefits by the State health insurer.

While addressing the nation on Tuesday from Mombasa, the Head of State ordered an immediate halt of the changes by National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to allow for further consultations.

“With regard to Kenya health insurance, I am aware of the proposed changes in the fees and structure of insurance benefits by the NHIF. And given my administration’s commitment to providing affordable healthcare, I am today directing the Ministry of Health to immediately halt the implementation of this proposal to allow for further consultations,” President Uhuru ordered.

The new changes, which had been seen as heavily punishing patients who had fallen back on their monthly contributions, kicked up a storm.

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Umbrella workers’ union COTU and a number of MPs and governors voiced their displeasure with the NHIF rules, which have been described as “punitive”.

The stringent requirements would have locked out millions of poor Kenyans seeking subsidised medical cover.

But NHIF in a memo said the changes were meant to align the organisation towards the attainment of the sustainable Universal Health Coverage and to retain membership.

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The special full board meeting was held on December 17, 2019, and resolved that the changes be effected in member management module with effect from January 1, 2020.

In the changes, the current contributors were to pay a one-year advanced payment and new self-contributors were also to pay Sh6,000 upfront and wait for 90 days before they can benefit from the NHIF health cover.

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Under the maternity services, if the voluntary member is accessing maternity services, the benefit had been restricted to six months after the card matures for principal members or spouse declared during registration.

Newborns, however, had been exempted from this provision, provided they are declared within six months from the date of birth.

In the new changes, the number of dependents per card had also been limited to a maximum of one spouse and five children.

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NHIFPresident Uhuru KenyattaHealth Ministry