• NHIF directive number one indicates the waiting period has been increased from 60 to 90 days
• Elongating the waiting period without proper reason will see more self-employed Kenyans shunning away from registering with NHIF which is at the centre of attaining UHC.
A letter from the National Hospital Insurance Fund head of registration and compliance dated Jan 7, 2020 to regional branch managers stipulated seven new directives to be observed effective from January 1.
The letter claimed all that was towards attaining a sustainable universal health coverage and for the purpose of enhancing member’s retention.
Universal Health Coverage requires that all individuals and communities access the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
NHIF directive number one indicates the waiting period has been increased from 60 to 90 days before benefiting from any services in which one is expected to have paid Sh6,000 upfront for 12 months.
Elongating the waiting period without proper reason will see more self-employed Kenyans shunning away from registering with NHIF which is at the centre of attaining UHC.
Inflicting 50 per cent penalty for each month defaulted or late payment assumes that every Kenyan is employed or has some form of consistent income making it unbearable for the self-employed population particularly from the Jua Kali industry leaving them behind which is against the objective of UHC.
The move to limit the number of spouses to one and a maximum of children to five as beneficiaries sounds punitive in a country where polygamy is legal under the Marriage Act 2014. Approximately 10 per cent of the marriage population are in polygamous marriage according to the 2019 census.
The practice is still embraced by some communities and accepted by various religions. Many women and their children will be at the receiving end of this, denying them the fundamental human right of accessing healthcare of the highest attainable standards enshrined in the Constitution under Article 43.
NHIF ought to review its new directives make evidence-based decisions and acknowledge the importance of meaningful collaboration with public authorities, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, private sector entities, and all relevant stakeholders in order to achieve UHC.