January 2016 BusinessDaily; Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has raised bed charges at its private wing wards, pushing the cost of healthcare at the main referral unit beyond the reach of many consumers.
Chief executive Lily Koros said the upward adjustment was a product of rising inflation on the back of expensive food and costly medical equipment.
Bed charges at the VIP ward of the private wing increased to Sh20,000 per day from Sh18,000 while patients in single rooms will part with Sh6,000, up from Sh4,000.
Those admitted to the general ward of the private wing will part with Sh4,000, up from Sh2,000, but the referral hospital left charges of its normal wards unchanged at Sh800 daily to cushion the very poor from the rate hikes.
“Things have changed and cost of services has also gone up,” said Ms Koros. “The government could be challenged in financing all our needs but sometimes it is about the goodwill and not how much one can give to address the issue.”
KNH joins private hospitals that have, in recent years, increased admission charges and fees paid to see a specialist, citing increased medicine and equipment prices due to a weakening local currency, import levy, higher value added tax (VAT) and expensive food.
Rising food helped push up inflation rate to a 16-month high in December, denying consumers the benefits of lower fuel and electricity costs.
Official data shows that inflation rose from 7.32 per cent in November to 8.01 per cent in December — marking the highest level since August last year when it stood at 8.36 per cent.
The year-on-year inflation rate was above the Central Bank’s preferred medium term range of 2.5-7.5 per cent. With 83 per cent of Kenyans living on less than $2 (Sh204.50) a day, few can afford to pay out of pocket for services at the private wing of KNH.
Only about a quarter of Kenyans have medical cover, according to a report by consulting firm Deloitte prepared for the restructuring of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
With private hospitals becoming costly, most Kenyans have been turning to KNH, especially for specialised services. Ms Koros say the non-private wing of KNH has not reviewed its rates for over two years to make it accessible.
The referral hospital is now calling on the State insurer NHIF to increase the rebates it offers patients admitted to the facility to cover the higher costs. The NHIF pays a maximum rebate of Sh2,400 for inpatient care a day at KNH, which says the rate has remain unchanged since 2008 despite the rise in medical care.
Ms Koros said the KNH faces financial challenges given its heavy reliance on the Treasury that allocated it Sh7.5 billion or 61.4 per cent of the hospital’s total revenues in 2014.