George Kebaso @Morarak
The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) card will still be in use even as the government unveils a new one under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme, director of medical services Jackson Kioko has said.
He said the NHIF card would continue to complement the provision of services offered under the new programme and will mostly be used for specialised treatment.
President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the UHC pilot programme for four counties last week in Kisumu.
Unlike NHIF where one needs just produce an identification card, under UHC, a letter from the chief will be required to access health services. This, according to Kioko, demonstrates that indeed one hails from the said neighbourhood and is a needy case.
“Having the NHIF card is also an advantage because you can use it to access specialised treatment. So the NHIF card is still important. Having the two cards is equally more advantageous,” Kioko said eamid mounting anxiety over the future of NHIF.
MPs recently questioned the sustainability of the UHC plan with the NHIF card still in force despite pronouncements by top officials in the Ministry of Health that key programmes under the Fund are likely to collapse and resources redistributed to other initiatives.
The National Assembly Health committee was concerned whether UHC may render other healthcare insurance programmes such as NHIF and various county initiatives redundant.
“How long are the new cards under UHC going to be valid if we register new clients using the NHIF infrastructure as indicated in the plan? How sustainable is the programme once we are through with the pilots?” asked committee chair, Sabina Chege during a session.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said ongoing programmes such as acceleration by counties to subscribe to the NHIF’s premium-based ‘Supa Cover’ programme are aimed at contributing towards the success of UHC.