Health Cabinet Secretary on Thursday unveiled details of health task force panel report that was meant to bring changes to the National Hospital Insurance Fund structure.
Speaking at a press conference held at Inter-Continental Hotel Nairobi, CS Kariuki said the ministry of health will ensure proper implementation of the recommendations presented by the task force and ensure continuous engagement with key stakeholders in the sector.
“Having received the expert report, the ministry will now initiate the implementation of the proposed recommendations and ensure continuous engagement with the Council of Governors, the public and private providers and Citizens who stand to benefit,” said CS Sicily Kariuki.
She added that following the Universal Health Care pilot study, an increased number of patient visits informed the expert s recommendations, which will ensure improved efficiency at NHIF.
“The UHC Pilot Exercise that will guide the National Scale-Up of UHC Program shows an increase in the number of patient visits, ranging from 20-40%. This demonstrates that there was indeed an unmet need, that informed the expert’s recommendations,” said the CS.
The CS added that, key reform recommendations include the need to actuarially determine premiums and benefit package entitlements to facilitate the sustainability of NHIF Kenya, strengthening and improving efficiency towards strategic purchasing, through automation and Information Technology.
“The ministry of health appreciates the expert Panel for their diligent, rigorous work and remains committed to the delivery of Universal Health Coverage, shall continue to collaborate with all health sector and inter-sectoral stakeholders in ensuring the promise of UHC is realized,” added CS Kariuki.
This comes even after the national parliament accused the state health insurer for using the funds only for the benefit of the rich while the poor are left to suffer and raise their own medical bill.
Members of Parliament on Wednesday through the National Assembly Health Committee accused the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) of spending billions to cater for medical expenses of the well-off patients in high-end private hospitals leaving out the poor and elderly to decide their medical bill fate.
NHIF acting CEO Nicodemus Odongo tabled documents that revealed how private hospitals continue to pocket billions in claims payments before the committee.
The documents also showed how government and mission hospitals, which serves a majority of Kenyans, receives less than half of what private hospitals get per year.
Susan Mochache, PS health(left), Sicily Kariuki, CS health (center) and task force member (right), chair Dr. Wambugu (center-right). Image|Courtsey
Social health insurance
The experts’ panel has recommended that NHIF Kenya should be turned to a social health insurance body to ensure essential health services are available to all Kenyans.
According to the panel report, NHIF governance structures should be strengthened and its services be defined by an independent body to redesign business process and organizational structure.
The panel has also recommended strengthening of the governance framework by establishing an independent accreditation and quality assurance mechanism of health service providers that will facilitate improved quality of health services.
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, praised the task panel for the recommendation report, adding that the ministry is committed to ensure UHC is delivered.
“We are grateful for the recommendations of the expert penal and we are committed to delivering Universal Health Coverage,” said Ms. Mochache.
The task force chair, Dr. James Wambugu also noted that part of the recommendations is to introduce a new UHC scheme for private and middle class people.
“The panel has also recommended enhancement of the Civil service scheme, introduction of another UHC scheme to cater for the private sector and the poor people,” Dr. Wambugu.
The 21-member panel of experts from public and private sector was appointed on February 26 following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive during the launch of the UHC pilot in Kisumu.
The President had ordered for reforms at NHIF and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).
NHIF (which collects more than Sh40 billion medical funds per year) was started as a department in the Ministry of Health in 1966 before it was transformed into a state corporation in 1998 through an Act of Parliament.