HOPES DASHED

Cash hitch stalls Uhuru's pensioners NHIF cover

Senior citizens were to benefit from NHIF Super Cover to cater for 80 per cent of medical bills

In Summary
  • Elderly people have been making long trips to hospital only to be turned away because their cards are not yet activated
  • Persons aged 75 and people living with disability were to be covered
President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Beyond Zero marathon on Sunday, March 10, 2019
TOO AMBITIOUS? President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Beyond Zero marathon on Sunday, March 10, 2019
Image: PSCU

About 484,000 elderly people listed in Uhuru’s NHIF Inua Jamii 70+ program will have to wait longer to access medical services as Treasury is yet to release the money.

The senior citizens were to benefit from NHIF Super Cover to cater for 80 per cent of a member's medical bills.

The services include surgery, CT scans, blood transfusions and treatment for fractures.

National Hospital Insurance Fund acting CEO Nicodemus Odongo yesterday told National Assembly’s Health Committee that the rollout of the program has been hampered by delays in disbursement of funds by Treasury.

The senior citizens hold NHIF cards but cannot access medical services in public hospitals as promised.

There have been growing complaints from the elderly who make long trips to hospital only to be turned away because their cards are not yet activated.

The initiative following President Kenyatta’s directive was to see all elderly persons from aged 75 and people living with disability covered at Sh500 per month or Sh6000 every year.

“The money was to be made available in July last year at the start of the financial year so that we roll out the program but the money was never released. Once the money is released we will activate the cards to allow the elderly and those with disability to access the services,” Odongo said.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Amina said the ministry is already engaging Treasury to release the funds to facilitate the rollout which is long overdue.

“We are pressing the ministry [Treasury] to give out the money so as to enable us meet this crucial obligation,” Rashid said.

 
 
 

MPs James Nyikal (Seme), Swarup Mishra (Kesses), Mohamed Mohamud (Wajir South), Martin Owino (Ndhiwa) slammed the national health insurer for subjecting the elderly people to more suffering even after issuing them with dysfunctional NHIF cards.

The lawmakers demanded that NHIF come up with a working strategy to ensure that all the 484,000 elderly people already enlisted get services from hospitals across the country even as they wait for Treasury to release the funds.

“We are talking about human beings and not statistics, people who have the NHIF cards but cannot get the services. The ministry should work on an arrangement to ensure they all get the services,” Owino said.

The scheme was an enhancement of the initial 2012 program which was targeting individuals aged 65 years and above.