LACK OF MEDICAL COVER

County staff threaten to strike over medical cover impasse

Insurance provider AAR withdrew services over nonpayment of premiums.

In Summary

• Acknowledging the situation, Nairobi Deputy Governor Ann Kananu said her administration is working with the Controller of Budget to resolve the stalemate.

•“The payment has been delayed by government processes but I am sure the money will be out today (Thursday) and we will clear the payment by end of business,” she said.

Nairobi county workers during a past protest.
Nairobi county workers during a past protest.
Image: FILE

A crisis is looming at City Hall as staff attached to Nairobi County government workers have threatened to go on strike from Friday over lack of a medical cover.

The Kenya County Government Workers Union has accused the county government of failing to pay their insurer, AAR Insurance Kenya Sh530 million leading to an impasse.

This has led to the staff being turned away in some of the accredited health facilities while seeking medical services.

Some have been forced to dig deep into their pockets and pay cash to get health assistance.

The Union’s Nairobi Branch  Secretary Festus Ngari said they have lost at least 2o members between March 16 and April 8, 2021, with five dying last Saturday alone.

He explained that City Hall has been paying insurance premiums in piecemeal despite the contract sum having been known in advance and budgeted for.

“If the impasse pitting AAR health insurance and the county government is not resolved, we will take an undisclosed industrial action by close of the business on April 9, 2021. Our members should be on high alert as we can blow the whistle anytime,” Ngari noted.

Acknowledging the situation, Nairobi Deputy Governor Ann Kananu said her administration is working with the Controller of Budget to resolve the stalemate.

“The payment has been delayed by government processes but I am sure the money will be out today (Thursday) and we will clear the payment by end of business,” she said.

The Union’s Secretary also said staff are also being turned away in facilities accredited by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) despite dues being deducted every month.

“NHIF should give us service commensurate to value for our money. There can be no taxation without representation,” Ngari added.

The union called on City Hall and AAR to resolve the issues without putting the lives of members at stake.

On February 12, 2021, AAR raised the flag and wrote to City Hall reminding them to settle a premium balance of Sh530 million.

Having no response, on March 9, 2021, AAR Managing Director Nixon Shigoli wrote to the county government informing them that due to failure to settle the arrears, they won't continue to offer uninterrupted services to the staff and their families.

 “This letter serves to inform you that we will be forced to suspend credit facilities for the scheme effective March 19, 2021, should we not have received the outstanding premium payment by then,” reads the letter in part.

Shigoli further noted that claims incurred during the credit suspension period will be settled directly with the members of staff after a full premium payment is received and subject to the usual policy terms.

Nairobi County Executive for Finance Allan Igambi responded to AAR  on April 7, 2021, highlighting that the delay in paying the outstanding money had been caused by the late passage of the county’s supplementary budget for the Financial Year 2020-21.

He claimed on January 11, 2021, an initial payment of Sh325 million was paid and the remaining Sh270 million will be settled on or before April 9, 2021.