President William Ruto

President William Ruto flanked by his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua (right) and Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha during the Presidential assent of the Universal Health Coverage Bills at State House, Nairobi on October 19, 2023.

| Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

How your health plan will change radically as NHIF replacement comes alive

What you need to know:

  • The Health CS on Wednesday gazetted the Social Health Insurance Act.
  • The Act establishes the Social Health Authority which will be headed by a director-general supervised by a board.

It’s just a matter of time before the State starts to raid workers’ payslips to finance the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF).

This comes after Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha on Wednesday gazetted the Social Health Insurance Act.

The Act establishes the Social Health Authority, which will be headed by a director-general, in turn supervised by a board headed by a non-executive chairman appointed by the President.

The new law makes it mandatory for adult Kenyans and foreigners residing in the country to register for the SHIF. Those in formal employment will have 2.75 per cent of their salaries deducted, with the self-employed and informal sector workers compelled to contribute Sh500 per month.

The government is seeking to generate revenue by targeting at least 17 million adult Kenyans who are not members of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which SHIF seeks to replace, to fund the drive to offer Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Section 26 (5) of the Act makes it mandatory for registration for the SHIF and directs the central and regional governments and their entities to deny services to non-members.

“A person who is registerable as a member under this Act shall produce proof of ... registration and contribution as a precondition of dealing with or accessing public services from the national government, county government or a national or county governments entities,” the law states.

One will be required to have an SHIF card before applying for Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and other government services.

This means that transfer and licensing of motor vehicles, registration of companies and business names, registration of land titles, approval of development plans among other government services that require the PIN, will need proof of SHI registration.

The registration of civil marriages will also be out of reach for those without SHIF registration, as will be doing business with the State, customs clearing and forwarding, provision of insurance services, payment for power connections and opening of personal accounts in commercial banks and other financial institutions.

A day after Ms Nakhumicha operationalised the Act, President William Ruto appointed Dr Timothy Olweny to be the non-executive chairman of SHA Board for a period of three years.

Dr Olweny will be joined by Dr Zakayo Gichuki representing the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), Ms Jacinta Mutegi on behalf of healthcare service providers and Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.

The automatic members of the board by virtue of the offices they hold include PSs in charge of Health, Finance, a representative of the county health executive caucus and a representative of the Council of Governors.

Also in the board will be person who is not a public officer but who has proven experience in health insurance, health financing, financial management, health economics, healthcare administration.

To enlist for SHIF, those in formal employment within the public and private sectors will pay 2.75 per cent of their salaries a month while those in the informal sector will part with Sh500 every month.

The law also makes it mandatory for “a person who, being a non-Kenyan and is ordinarily resident in Kenya”, to register for the SHIF.

“A child born after commencement of this Act shall be registered at birth as a member of SHIF,” the Act states, adding that registration shall be conducted continuously at various points “in such a manner as shall be prescribed by cabinet secretary.”

NHIF data indicates that at least 26 million Kenyans are aged 18 years and above yet the public insurer has registered slightly above 9 million members.