On January 9th, NHIF issued a notice to its Regional managers, Branch manager, and senior officials with new rules that would require members joining the fund to wait for 90 days before accessing services or benefits, and a cap allowing all married individuals to only enlist a single spouse and a maximum of five children as beneficiaries.
Kenyans decried the outrageous revisions with Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) calling for the suspension of the rules, terming the changes as punitive and retrogressive and demanded that NHIF withdraw the circular to allow for consultations with relevant stakeholders.
President Uhuru while addressing the Nation today from State House in Mombasa, directed the Ministry of Health to immediately suspend the new recommendations by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) that were to be effected at the beginning of this year, to pave way for further consultations following public outcry.
“Given my administration’s commitment to providing affordable health I am today directing the Ministry of Health to immediately halt the implementation of these proposals to allow for further consultations,” he said.
New Members joining the NHIF were to pay at least 6,000 shillings upfront as compared to the current 1,000 and 1,500 shillings. The new rules were likely to slacken the uptake of the NHIF scheme, a core feature of Kenya’s plan to achieve universal health coverage under President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
President Uhuru’s directive comes as a reprieve to Kenyans who were staring at heavy fines and the possibility of never making it into the scheme.