NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – The Kenya Healthcare Federation Chief Executive Officer Amit Thakker has confirmed he is the one in a leaked telephone conversation with the suspended boss of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Richard Kerich.
In an interview with Capital FM News, Thakker maintained that NHIF should be an insurer of last resort that covered chronic, pre-existing and high cost illnesses instead of the proposed universal health scheme.
In the leaked telephone conversation, Thakker was heard trying to convince Kerich to cede ground of offering outpatient cover and instead stick with an inpatient scheme.
“They have already got themselves into the inpatient space. I am reluctant to say that they can move ahead and do better but there is a role for them. We believe that NHIF, if they take on the position of an overriding protector for all 40 million Kenyans, there are several things that they can do and this means that we redesign and redefine the space of NHIF,” he said.
NHIF currently has three schemes – the civil servants and disciplined forces scheme, teachers scheme and the inpatient scheme for other contributing members.
NHIF has proposed to make the inpatient scheme for members a universal health scheme where contributors will have access to both inpatient and outpatient services. However this has been greatly opposed by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Kenya Employers after NHIF planned to increase the monthly contributory rates by over 500 percent.
Thakker said the Kenya Private Sector Alliance of which he is a board member, fully supported the stand taken by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) to oppose the civil servants scheme as well as the proposed universal healthcare scheme by NHIF.
He however said the alliance had not bribed COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli to act against the NHIF as is the impression created on the audio recording.
“One thing that I think the ministry has not agreed on is that NHIF must put its house in order before we give it any extra shilling but the Minister quite often tells us we can chew gum and walk at the same time we do not agree. We believe that this parastatal must fix itself before any extra funding is given to it,” he stated.
At the same time, Thakker said the amount NHIF was remitting to health facilities to offer services was too little.
NHIF is using the capitation method for outpatient scheme where they are giving health facilities Sh2,850 per person per year to access unlimited outpatient services.
He now wants the government to make NHIF optional but ensure that every Kenyan has a health plan of choice.
“Private insurers are not out to destroy NHIF at all. Several of the insurers in the private industry do not want to insure outpatient because the claim ratio for outpatients is more of a loss maker than inpatient and it’s only for large groups that they will give you outpatient,” he said.