The Ministry of Health is developing a policy that could help increase the number of Kenyans accessing healthcare financing from six million to 15 million within the next five years.
This will be done through acceleration of NHIF enrollment targets and engaging innovative healthcare financing mechanisms.
The plan will expand benefits for cancer treatment under NHIF, given that the disease is a leading cause of death and out-of-pocket spending.
Health Principal Secretary Julius Korir said this during a meeting to discuss the Health sector Medium Term Plan (MTP) III, held at Afya Annex.
The MTP III is expected to improve access to health services.
“With MTP III, cost should no longer be a barrier to healthcare access,” the PS said.
Other priority areas to be incorporated in the MTP III, include water and sanitation, healthcare information technology and increase of referral hospitals from four to 10.
“In future, public health facilities shall be the preferred option for citizens,” he said.
In the new plan, the government will also establish a centre of excellence in healthcare management at Kenya Medical Training Colleges.
The plan comes as the latest figures show Kenya’s out-of-pocket expenditure for health has gone down, following the expansion of insurance and the abolition of most outpatient fees since 2013.
In 2013, 36 per cent of all hospital-related spending was out-of-pocket, which many Kenyans could not afford. They sought help from relatives or sold property.
Korir said this figure has declined because of increased social insurance cover and abolition of user fees in public hospitals.
“Abolition of the fees in 2013 was an initial step to ensuring equitable access to healthcare,” he said.