• Those to be listed are mainly needy people, including the elderly, who are unable to cater to their own medical expenses. Registration will run for five days.
• Each subcounty has at least six registration centres meant to list residents for the NHIF programme.
The National Hospital Insurance Fund has started biometric registration of 23,000 vulnerable persons in Busia.
Those to be listed are mainly needy people, including the elderly, who are unable to cater to their own medical expenses. Registration will run for five days. It started on Tuesday.
The drive is part of key reforms the insurer is undertaking to ensure the attainment of universal health coverage by making it easier for members to pay hospital bills in good time. It will also eliminate fraud.
“We want all residents of Busia to know what NHIF does because this will enable many to enrol for NHIF and subsequently get access to treatment easily,” Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi said.
He spoke on Tuesday while launching the registration at Nambale Subcounty Hospital.
“The importance of this rollout is that if we educate the public effectively, it will enable many people to get healthcare easily. The national government through the universal healthcare programme has availed an opportunity for 23,000 residents of Busia to join NHIF.”
Mulomi said each subcounty has at least six registration centres to list residents for the NHIF programme.
He urged the national insurer to register as many people as possible, since those seeking treatment in health facilities using NHIF card are still few countrywide.
“I want to challenge NHIF today to check the number of people who get sick and get treated in the country. If they are one million, you will find out that those under NHIF are a very minor part of this population. If the universal health coverage is supposed to succeed in this country, please target this needy majority, otherwise you will end up with the poverty level even getting worse,” Mulomi, who is acting Health chief executive, said.
“It is very sad that with this good programme, our access to quality healthcare is being limited to a few of us.”
He said many people under NHIF already have other health cover, thus the need to focus on a large, needy population that is not in formal employment.
“NHIF is a key factor and I would urge all residents of Busia to register. Those who will get this opportunity should use it well and should be able to encourage others to register.”
He said there are consultations between the county executive and MCAs to increase the allocation in the budget to cater for needy residents.
NHIF acting manager in charge of Registration and Compliance Wambugu Kariuki said the introduction of biometric registration for the insurer’s members will limit fraud within the institution.
“We have been losing a lot of money to people who are not covered by NHIF while using other people’s NHIF cards. With biometric registration, we will be able to reduce fraud,” he said.
County UHC director David Mukabi called on leaders in the county to advocate for the listing of more people under NHIF.
“We ask our people, especially our leaders – political, religious and others – to continue passing out this message to our people because as it has been said before, NHIF works through having many people contributing,” he said.
WHY BIOMETRIC REGISTRATION
NHIF has been battling fraud, a practice that is estimated globally to be between 10 and 30 per cent, with Kenya ranging around 20 per cent.
The most common form of medical fraud is impersonation, whereby an active member can allow another person who is not a member of NHIF to use his or her card to go a hospital to seek treatment.
Biometric registration will only ensure NHIF members get treated at health facilities.
Another area of medical fraud is where some health facilities manufacture claims and forward them to NHIF for payment.
NHIF data shows that 10.4 million households are registered for the cover but those who are currently active are 5.1 million.
Edited by A.N