, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 30 – The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) has said that the National Hospital Insurance Fund lacks the capacity to implement increased rates, even as the NHIF insists it wants remittances made with immediate effect.
Executive Director Jacqueline Mugo said on Thursday that NHIF was yet to sign service contracts with private hospitals and other medical institutions to provide the improved medical cover.
“Time should be given to allow the required systems be put in place to support the scheme,” Mrs Mugo said in a statement.
She said that before the rollout, NHIF should first harmonise the recruitment process of its service providers, prepare clear guidelines for them addressing the questions arising on the actual operations of the scheme and educate the beneficiaries on how to access the services before taking money from contributors.
“NHIF should put in place quality checks and balances to ensure the provision of quality services from participating hospitals,” she stated.
In a previous interview with Capital News, NHIF Corporate Strategy and Planning Manager Chacha Marwa had said that the insurance fund would not have acted on this before because of the court case that had been filed by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions and FKE seeking to block the new rates.
The case was thrown out three days ago after Industrial Court Judge James Rika ruled that the applicants’ case was ‘baseless.’
Mr Marwa however said that they were now ready to engage over 3,100 private, mission and public health facilities that had applied to offer outpatient services and another 538 hospital that had applied to offer inpatient services under the new scheme.
“We shall now go and do the technical evaluations so that we can see which ones have the capacity to give our members the kind of services we want our members to get,” Mr Marwa had said.
The Federation of Kenya Employers said on Thursday that the transferability of service benefits from one region to another should also be put in place as a priority.
“There should be a guarantee of adequate health care provision to all the contributors regardless of their location in Kenya. This should include educating the contributors on what is in the promised package,” the statement read.
The NHIF has indicated that it would give members an opportunity to choose the hospital they would like to attend based on their location on a monthly basis.
It has also said that it was already addressing the issue of mobility especially because of students and people who work in different locations like long distance truck drivers.
The employers’ body said that it would be prudent for NHIF to re-engage key partners in consultations aimed at ironing out the contentious issues to enhance industrial peace.
“NHIF should manage the change process well and adopt a pragmatic approach in implementing this scheme. This will help us avoid negative impact on industrial relations and possible disruption to continuity of work that may arise from the hasty implementation of a disputed process,” the Executive Director said.
The employers argued that most of them had already closed their payrolls hence would not be in a position to comply this month as required.
“Employers should be given reasonable time to implement the deductions of the enhanced rates and to manage the workplace issues that will arise,” Mrs Mugo said in the statement.
She said that employers were also not in a position to absorb any extra costs arising out of this development when already the cost of doing business was skyrocketing as a result of increasing costs of energy among others.
“Rather than going by the letter of the law, a new spirit needs to be adopted. Pushing for immediate collection of contributions when the system is not yet in place for the intended beneficiaries to enjoy them is simply not right,” she said.
Under the new NHIF rules, member contribution has moved away from the Sh320 maximum payment to a progressive rate of up to Sh2,000.
The lowest contributor would now pay Sh150 which applies to those earning less than Sh6,000, while the highest contributor will fork out Sh2,000 for those earning more than Sh100,000.