Kenyans will now be able to access outpatient services courtesy of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) following an approval by the NHIF Board of Management for a National Outpatient cover to be rolled out.
NHIF CEO Simeon Ole Kirgotty said that Kenyans could now access the new benefits in hospitals that have been accredited by NHIF across the country.
NEW NHIF RATES
This comes three months after NHIF rates were increased in order for the National Health Insurance Fund to offer a better package to its beneficiaries. Among the benefits in the enhanced NHIF cover is general consultations with doctors, laboratory tests, drugs, x-ray and ultrasound diagnosis among others.
The institution has however received criticism for the new rates from several quarters with trade unions calling for national strikes in protest.
The criticism has even gained more momentum following the announcement that principal contributors will only be allowed access to medication of between Sh 1,000 and Sh 1,400 outpatient cover per year under the new regulations.
According to the Trade Unions Congress of Kenya officials, the rates are too modest and insignificant compared to the amount deducted from contributors.
“If they are collecting Sh20, 400 from contributors how then does it turn out that one can only access Sh1, 400. This is a rip off,” said Mr Odege. TUC-K National Chairman Tom Odege
Previously, monthly contribution to NHIF stood at Kshs 320 for all employees earning above Kshs 15,000; and a Kshs 160 voluntary contribution for everyone else earning above Kshs 1,000 (USD 12).
Unlike in the previous structure of payment that was uniform, the new rates, which took effect from April 1 this year are now based on individuals salary scale.
Workers earning Sh5,999 are now paying Sh150, which is the lowest deduction and those earning above Sh100,000 pay Sh1,700.
The Federation of Kenya Employers has been calling on employers to peg the new NHIF on basic rather than gross pay.
“This paradigm shift of basing statutory payments on gross earnings is misguided and punitive to both employers and employees,” said FKE chairman Linus Gitahi.