KENYA :NHIF is broke, may not meet obligations — auditor general

September 2021 theStar :The National Health Insurance Fund is broke and may not meet its obligations if the negative financial performance is not dealt with.

A new report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu shows the national health insurer has a funding gap of over Sh3.6 billion.

The fund’s performance has dropped compared with the financial year 2017-18 when it earned an extra Sh295 million.

“The fund’s performance is on a downward trend and if strategies are not in place to reverse the trend, the fund is likely to experience financial difficulties in future,” Gathungu warned.

The deficit resulted in a reduction of the fund’s earnings from Sh23 billion it posted in the year ending June 2018 to Sh19 billion in the year ending June 30, 2019.

NHIF’s performance has been a cause of concern for many leaders, with calls to the government and the fund management to get a lasting solution.

During the NHIF membership registration drive in Mombasa in July, ODM leader Raila Odinga decried the situation of the fund failing to meet the hospitalisation needs of Kenyans.

The former Prime Minister lamented that a number of Kenyans were avoiding going to hospitals because they fear the costs associated with the services.

“With the current pandemic, hundreds of Kenyans have died simply because they could not afford hospital fees. The chance of a greater segment of our population dropping dead from illness is one infection away,” Raila said.

“This burden needs to be taken away from the necks of our people. Kenyans are crying for and deserve insurance subsidies that come with both in-patient and outpatient needs in hospitals,” he said.

The challenges with NHIF have been cited to slow down President Kenyatta’s Universal Health Coverage plan, which is among the pillars of his Big Four agenda.

The UHC dream has yet to succeed despite its roots being traced to the Narc government in the botched amendments to the NHIF Act by then Health Minister Charity Ngilu.

The NHIF management has attributed the fund’s loss-making woes to the fact that millions of Kenyans have left their accounts dormant as only 5.1 million accounts are active out of the registered 10.4 million.

Chairman Lewis Nguyai, in pushing for individuals to activate their accounts, once told a meeting in Nairobi that NHIF pays Sh2 for every shilling received by a member.

MPs are currently processing a bill that is hoped would remedy some of the stumbling blocks to the UHC agenda.

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