Kenyans get reprieve as SHIF contributions pushed to July

Susan NAkhumicha health cs

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru I Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • SHIF contributions are to start July 1, not March; CS Nakhumicha says postponement will allow for consultation with County Governors.
  • The CS acknowledged that while the regulations are on course, there is a need to seal the loopholes that exist therein.

Kenyans can breathe a sigh of relief as Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha announces a deferral in the commencement of contributions to the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) under the new Social Health Authority (SHA) to a later date.

Originally scheduled to begin in the first week of March, contributions will now start on July 1, with registration of members taking place between March and June 30. Members previously registered under the defunct National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) will be required to register afresh to the new social health scheme.

During a national validation exercise held yesterday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), the CS said that many Kenyans have welcomed the idea of the new regulations.

“We have received a lot of feedback from different stakeholders and they have rated the new regulations at 75 to 80 per cent sufficient to implement the SHA Act, under which Kenyans will pay 2.75 per cent of their household income to the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF).

The CS acknowledged that while the regulations are on course, there is a need to seal the loopholes that exist therein. These include the concerns that different quarters have raised.

Some of the issues that have come up include the mean testing tool that will be used to determine how much non-salaried contributors will pay into the fund.

 According to Muthomi Njuki, chairperson health committee at the Council of Governors and Tharaka Nithi County Governor, the county government should be incorporated into the transition committee that will oversee the transition from NHIF to SHIF.

He also lamented that the issue of claims to public hospitals be addressed with speed, noting that most of the beneficiaries of claims may be private hospitals as was with NHIF.

“That committee needs to be more inclusive. The county government is not represented yet they are the ones that have claims from NHIF and they are not paying because they have no resources.

We have concerns as in the previous regime, 90 per cent of those claiming were public hospitals yet 90 per cent of reimbursements were going to private hospitals,” he said.

The Chair also urged the government to streamline the operationalisation of the primary healthcare fund to ensure that the kitty benefits both the public and private sectors.

The primary healthcare fund which will be accessed by all Kenyans who are registered under SHIF will be funded by the ex-chequer.  This means that Kenyans will not be required to access services under this fund.

 While responding to the concerns by the county governments and representatives of other bodies, CS Nakhumicha said that the concerns will be addressed before presenting the regulations to parliament for approval.

“Our aim as the ministry is to commence registration from the first week of March and this will go on up to June, thereafter we intend to begin contributions at a rate of 2.75 per cent with a minimum payment of Shillings 300. We hope that access to these benefits will start in July,” she said.

Also, added, “We are working very hard to ensure that Kenyans don’t even notice the changeover. I think we were running very fast and my team was working with a target of March 1. Having listened to Governor Muthomi, I think there is one slight step that we need to consider so that we have everyone on board,” the CS said.