One in five pensioners in Kenya spends their lump sum on medical bills and loan repayments, highlighting the pressures facing Kenya's senior citizens in their sunset years.
This is according to a survey conducted by the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), which shows that medical bills are the third most common item to consume pensioners' lump sum, after school fees, which is the first, and buying a house or land to live in, which is the second.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has the lowest average lump sum paid to pensioners at Sh172,844, followed by Savings and Cooperative Societies whose average lump sum payment is Sh512,943 and then Pension Schemes at Sh1,956,727. 80 per cent of pensioners received the lump sum through direct transfer while 16.0 per cent received it through cheques, 3 per cent through cash and 1 per cent through MPesa," the report said.
The RBA survey shows that 92.0 per cent of pensioners in Kenya pay for their own health care, with the remaining 8.0 per cent having it paid for by their spouse, children, siblings, a politician or the church.
"To finance/pay for their health services, 33.4 per cent of respondents relied solely on the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), while 29.8 per cent relied solely on cash. 21.6 per cent of respondents paid using both cash and NHIF. The 0.5 per cent who selected other said they received free services," the RBA survey revealed.
The RBA survey also shows that 48.0 per cent of pensioners seek medical attention at private hospitals; 46 percent seek services at public hospitals; 3.3% self-medicate, while the remaining proportion seek services from herbalists. The average amount paid to public hospitals, private hospitals and herbalists is Sh191.0, Sh230.0 and Sh748.0 respectively.
"When asked what was the most important thing in their lives, 37 percent of retirees said their health was the most important thing, followed by 19.0 percent who chose putting food on the table and 16 percent who chose educating their children. Educating grandchildren was the most important thing for 6 percent of respondents. Combined with children's education, this gives a total of 22 percent of respondents for whom education was most important," the RBA survey said.
The RBA survey polled 424 pensioners from a sample of 602 across 42 counties. 72 per cent of respondents were male, 73.0 per cent were aged between 60 and 69, while 25 per cent and 2 per cent were aged between 50 and 59 and over 70 respectively. The survey was carried out between December 2021 and February 2022.