November 2018 BusinessDaily; Medical and doctors’ fees are expected to fall significantly following Parliament’s directive that the country reverts to the 2006 pricing guidelines that were abandoned two years ago with the adoption of the current rates.
The National Assembly’s Health committee has, in a report dated November 15, instructed Health secretary Sicily Kariuki to immediately replace the existing Medical Practitioners and Dentists Rules 2016 with the second edition of the Professional Fees Rules and Guidelines of 2006, which prescribe cheaper rates for various medical services and procedures.
The committee chaired by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege also gave the Health ministry, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board six months to come up with reasonable cost of various treatment regimens.
“The ministry, KMPDB and Pharmacy and Poisons Board must review within six months, reasonable Professional Fees Rules and Guidelines, Regulations on cost of service of medical services and drugs in general, costing of healthcare, with a view of ensuring that all fees are in tandem with the UHC (Universal Health Coverage) agenda. This should be done with proper consultations and public participation,” the committee said.
The 2016 Guidelines came into force on July 22, 2016, through a legal notice published by the then Health secretary Cleopa Mailu.
Reinstatement of the 2006 guidelines is set to slash the various fees charged by medical practitioners by up to 50 percent starting with the general practitioner’s first visit consultation fee, which will drop to a maximum of Sh2,500 down from Sh5,000. Patients on follow-up visits will be charged not more than Sh1,500.
Under the 2006 guidelines, specialists cannot charge more than Sh4,000 in consultation fee, down from the current ceiling of Sh7,500.
40,000 normal delivery
Patients will also be required to pay the doctor Sh40,000 maximum fee for assisted normal delivery down from Sh96,000, while ectopic pregnancy surgery will attract a maximum charge of Sh80,000 down from Sh144,000.
The recommendations came in the wake of a Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) petition challenging what it termed fraudulent medical bills that Nairobi-based MP Shah Hospital charged a patient, Matilda Anyango, who later passed on.
The committee found that the late Anyango’s case was not isolated and that medical practitioners are charging exorbitant fees following the 2016 review.
Parliament also found that ordinary Kenyans need legal protection from rampant exploitative practices such as unnecessary admissions, unjustified excessive hidden costs, excessive diagnostic tests and exaggerated prescriptions.
Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro Wednesday told the Business Daily that high professional fees in the healthcare sector have accounted for three in every 10 consumer complaints in the past couple of years indicating the strain on Kenyans.
The committee found that the current rates are out of touch with the local realities and that the high cost of treatment had led to the deterioration of services in the public sector as practitioners fled to open private clinics.
This, they said, was against the government’s quest to achieve the UHC agenda.
“Deterioration of health services offered at public hospitals provided private profiteers with the opportunity to overcharge Kenyans.
There was thus an urgent need to improve the quality of service delivery in public hospitals to provide affordable healthcare to the public, in turn driving down prices in private facilities,” the committee said.