AFFORDABILITY AT PLAY

UHC does not mean free health care

In all different forms of UHC, citizens still purchase supplemental medical insurance to ensure an appropriate standard of care

In Summary

• With UHC, all people can access the health services they need without the risk of financial hardship 

President Uhuru Kenyatta unveils the UHC logo during the launch of the pilot programme in Kisumu on December 13 last year
BIG FOUR AGENDA: President Uhuru Kenyatta unveils the UHC logo during the launch of the pilot programme in Kisumu on December 13 last year
Image: PSCU

According to the World Health Organisation, UHC does not mean free healthcare. It means all people can access the health services they need without the risk of financial hardship when paying for them.

While residents of the pilot counties currently receive free services, Kenyans will need to somewhat pay through an insurance scheme managed by the National Hospital Insurance Fund, when the plan goes national.

The current free services are only available for child, maternal and mental health services. Residents also receive free infectious diseases management, non-communicable diseases management, inpatient and outpatient services and community health services.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki says this benefits package might be modified to reflect unique challenges in different counties when the national plan is rolled out. With a phased approach, the full access is not expected until 2022.

According to WHO, for a country to achieve UHC, it must have a strong health system that meets people’s needs by encouraging people to stay healthy and prevent illness.

The target also entails detecting health conditions early, having the capacity to treat disease, and helping patients with rehabilitation. It must also be affordable so people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for services.

There is also a form of universal healthcare where the government pays for the healthcare needs of its residents, often called the “single-payer” system.

In all different forms of UHC, citizens still purchase supplemental medical insurance to ensure an appropriate standard of care.