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NHIF: Health insurance for 3 million secondary school students ready

Health & Science
 Kenya Health Federation chair Amit Thakkar.

A health insurance plan for three million secondary school students is ready, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has said.

The state-owned social health insurer has revealed that all modalities for the programme as proposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta are complete.

NHIF Manager in charge of Benefits and Claims Gilbert Osoro said both the insurer and the Ministry of Education have held discussions and agreed on the basics of the programme.

"We are at the very tail end of finalising the programme before we have President Uhuru Kenyatta launch it in a few weeks," said Osoro.

Osoro was speaking during the just concluded Universal Health Care (UHC) conference held in Makueni County.

He said the insurer will be recruiting grassroots agents to push up their numbers of subscribers to 13 million by 2022.

Similarly, the social health insurance fund seeks to include pensioners in their scheme which will see them being deducted some amount of money for the scheme.

Last month, NHIF launched a special cover for Very Important Persons (VIP) dubbed platinum that targeted retired Members of Parliament.

Gilbert Osoro, NHIF Manager in charge of Benefits and claims said so far they only cover 36 per cent of the population. 

"Our focus is to achieve Universal Health Care (UHC), and for this to happen, majority of Kenyans have to be members of NHIF," said Osoro.

So far, NHIF has 6.5 million subscribers. Though it is the statutory health insurance (where it is mandatory for all those who are employed), it is not the primary insurer.

Due to this, the majority of Kenyans who are insured under NHIF also have private health covers which they prefer using upon visiting health facilities.

Osoro said they are currently revising the 1998 NHIF Act that he noted has outlived its purpose to have it revised.

Part of the planned revision will include making NHIF the primary insurance provider that every time you visit the hospital, the facility will demand your NHIF cover to be used first before the private one is utilised.

"We also understand that we are limited in terms of service for example in dental we only cover tooth extraction, but we hope to expand it to cover more health procedures," said Osoro.

Osoro was speaking during the just concluded UHC conference held in Makueni County.

The conference was graced by technical experts in the health sectors among them Kenya Health Federation led by its chair Amit Thakkar.

Thakkar said though NHIF has improved its performance over the years, it has a lot to learn from an insurance programme innovated by Makueni County where households pay Sh500 per year to access health services across all county facilities.

This is unlike NHIF whose lowest subscription is Sh500 per household per month translating to Sh6,000 a year.

"NHIF hardly covers the poor people, it is for the rich. Those who pay Sh500 per year simply cannot afford Sh6,000 a year. To be honest, NHIF needs to start thinking of the poor," said Thakkar.

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