Dilemma On Proposed Review Of NHIF Contributions Biannually

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) is a scheme that was established under the NHIF Act of 1998 to provide health insurance to Kenyans. The eligibility criteria for enrolment are any ordinary citizen in Kenya who has attained the age of 18 and is either inactive employment or self-employment. Members of Parliament passed the NHIF bill on September 29th, 2021, stating that every adult in Kenya over the age of 18 is required to purchase NHIF coverage. There is a provision for the informal household to sign up for the NHIF and pay 6,000 Kenyan shillings annually. It is helpful as it will help in achieving universal health coverage.

Recently, a proposal was brought up in parliament to review the monthly contributions that the members of NHIF pay every two years. This amendment bill has been set for debate this month. The choice is attributed to the increased cases of chronic illnesses in the country, which make the pool of funds gathered by NHIF unable to meet the health needs of all Kenyans. According to the statistics compiled by Ampath, in western Kenya alone, 60,000 people are living with diabetes. This does not include other citizens with chronic illnesses like hypertension and cancer that require regular medical attention. 

For this case, it’s a two-way situation because, on the side of NHIF, the disease burden is on the rise, and the only way to keep the services functional, is to increase the financial flow to the pooled funds so that they can assist in achieving the sustainable development goal of health for all. In 2015, the World Bank reported 36.1% of Kenyans were living below the poverty line, and to date, nothing has changed much. Recently, there has been a remarkable increase in the prices of basic commodities such as cooking oil and sugar. This has affected many Kenyans because of the little income they get per day. This situation has caused trouble among Kenyans because most of the citizens live from hand to mouth. With the rise in the economy, will Kenyans be able to pay for the doubled contribution of the NHIF? It’s a good initiative on the part of NHIF, but there is more than meets the eye. Through research should be conducted prior to passing the bill so that local Kenyans are not inconvenienced and the NHIF’s pool of funds is not taxed.

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