Kenya's healthcare landscape is set for a significant shift as citizens prepare to contribute 2.75 per cent of their gross salaries to the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) starting July 1.

This change, outlined in the final Social Health Insurance (General) Regulations, 2024, brings clarity to the previously uncertain timeline set by the Ministry of Health.

Timothy Olweny, Chairman of the Social Health Authority (SHA), has confirmed the adjustments, stating, "Payment of contributions and access to health services under the Act and these regulations will commence on July 1, 2024."

The regulations stipulate a deadline for the registration of SHIF members by June 30, ending the uncertainty surrounding the commencement of deductions.

According to the regulations, "every person resident in Kenya shall apply to the Authority for registration as a member of the Social Health Insurance Fund."

The Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha, had previously announced varying commencement dates, initially suggesting March before settling on July.

She emphasized the availability of services from July onwards, indicating a necessary three-month preparation period.

As the nation prepares for this transition, the Ministry is yet to initiate registration and means testing to identify vulnerable households requiring financial support, responsibilities currently borne by the national or county government.

Olweny mentioned, "We will announce the date when the registration will start, it will be soon. We hope that means-testing will be incorporated into the registration process."

Robert Pukose, Chairman of the National Assembly's Health Committee, clarified that Kenyans will continue contributing to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) until December, with a transitional clause allowing this continuation.

NHIF contributions currently stand at Sh1,700, a figure set to change under the new SHIF system.

The shift in contributions also affects non-salaried individuals, with their monthly NHIF payment dropping from Sh500 to Sh300 under the new regime.

This move signals a fundamental change in Kenya's healthcare financing, with implications for access to health services and financial obligations for citizens.

As the July 1 deadline approaches, stakeholders are gearing up for the implementation of this crucial reform in the nation's healthcare sector.