24 November 2012

Kenya: Employers Want NHIF Fee to Await 2013 Poll

The NHIF is set to effect the new medical insurance rates after the industrial court dismissed an application by the Kenya Union of domestic, hotel, ... ( Resource: Kenya National Health Fund to Effect New Rates )

The Federation of Kenya Employers has said the new NHIF rates should wait until after the March 2013 election as it reads mischief.

It has requested the Medical Services minister Anyang' Nyong'o, who is at the centre of the saga, to revoke a gazette notice on the new rates "to pave way for open and free engagement with stakeholders on the desired changes."

FKE chairman Erastus Mwogera said current NHIF contributions that range from Sh30 to Sh320 have not been accounted for and the fund should first clear the matter by publishing statements of accounts.

"This is public money held in trust... the scandals after scandals at NHIF have not done any good to inspire confidence," said Mwongera.

"Increasing the threshold in this manner would mean adding more fuel to the fire! NHIF should first account for and show value for money collected in the past."

Mwongera said that though there is need to adjust the rates, concerned parties must be engaged to avoid eminent strife and the perception of mischief as the country heads to elections.

"The minister is giving generalised justification. He doesn't give a break-down of how the collections are utilised - if the fund is well-managed, the issue wouldn't be about contributions because we would identify where the shortfalls are."

FKE said some of its members sought a court injunction over the rates after Nyong'o failed to honour a tripartite agreement drawn in May between it, the ministry and Cotu.

A key concern is that many contributors have no confidence in the safety of their funds, while others say they have alternative medical insurance schemes that are run better.

The new rates, which are intended to expand NHIF to include outpatient services, will see the lowest contributions rise to Sh150 while those earning Sh100,000 and above will contribute Sh2,000.

FKE has also said it will forward proposals to Parliament for consideration in the NSSF Bill approved by the Cabinet on Thursday. The bill proposes to transform NSSF from a pension fund into a pension scheme, which will also see member contributions increased.

FKE said its major concern is to ensure a clear transition without duplicating pension contributions because some employers already have alternative schemes and insurance packages.

"We sit on the NSSF board. Some of our members however feel they have proposals that we hope will be addressed before the bill is passed in Parliament," said Mwongera.

Once NSSF becomes a pension scheme, member benefits will be staggered as opposed to the current one-off payments made when one retires. FKE said the arrangement will be beneficial.

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