The security provided by the National Health Insurance Fund's (NHIF) comprehensive cover is under threat, leaving 73 public institutions, civil servants, and millions of retired officers in suspense as the government introduces a new social health scheme.
The recently gazetted Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) Act 2023, spearheaded by Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, has eliminated the provision for enhanced covers that public servants and employees of government agencies have long relied upon.
The exclusion of the comprehensive cover from SHIF has prompted concerns among civil servants, universities, doctors, and retired public officers, who have voiced their discontent with the removal of a package they have depended on for years.
Fears have surfaced that influential figures within the government may be paving the way for private insurance companies to replace the longstanding comprehensive cover provided by NHIF.
This development raises questions about the future accessibility and affordability of health insurance for those affected.
NHIF Chief Executive Elijah Wachira addressed the National Assembly’s Petitions Committee last Thursday, shedding light on the imminent changes.
Wachira disclosed that the government would discontinue EduAfya, a scheme benefiting millions of secondary school students, as it is not incorporated into the new fund replacing NHIF.
Introduced in May 2018 by then-President Uhuru Kenyatta, EduAfya was a Ministry of Education initiative that contracted NHIF to provide a unique comprehensive medical insurance cover for public secondary school students.
Under the scheme, the government paid a premium of Sh1,350 per student, contributing to NHIF's total revenue of Sh9.5 billion over the past four years.
The impact of the new social health scheme extends beyond secondary school students, affecting various sectors that have relied on NHIF's comprehensive cover.
This includes civil servants, county government and assembly employees, public universities, the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons Service, National Youth Service (NYS), and several parastatals.
As public servants grapple with uncertainty regarding their health coverage, the government's decision to transition away from NHIF's comprehensive cover raises questions about the implications for the accessibility and quality of healthcare for millions of individuals and institutions that have depended on the longstanding scheme.