Mwanza — THE government yesterday increased the age of dependants on the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) from 18 to 21 years, spelling relief to parents who cover health service bills for their children.
Addressing the public during the Workers Day celebrations here yesterday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan said the decision was in response to workers' request on the challenge they face in footing bills for their children when they face health complications.
She said the decision will be included in the review of the health insurance Act. Earlier, workers through Acting TUCTA Secretary General, Said Wamba said parents were forced to spend a lot of money to cater for the health needs of their children who are above 18 years.
Mr Wamba said at the age of 18, children who are still in education system must be regarded as dependants, and thus the government must consider extending the age limit.
Moreover, the Head of State said the government is also looking forward to improve health services for retired servants through NHIF.
"Based on the assessment of the insurance Fund's longevity and sustainability, the government will next month look into the possibility of funding the retirees' group regardless of their ten-year contribution's criterion," said the President.
The Head of State further added that the government is also continuing with preparations for establishment of the universal health coverage.
Universal health coverage means that all people have access to health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
It includes a full range of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), currently at least half of the people in the world do not receive health services they need.
About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on health. Addressing Parliament last week, President Samia pledged to strengthen health insurance schemes to increase the number of Tanzanians with access to the services and address challenges facing NCD patients.
According to her, currently only 8.2 million Tanzanians, equivalent to 14 per cent, have access to insurance services.
The Head of State added that the government will continue strengthening the country's healthcare system, including taking specialised services to regional referral hospitals.
Recently, National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai directed Parliamentary Social Services Committee to stay strong and push for a Bill that will make universal health insurance coverage mandatory.
"Universal health insurance coverage is very important for our people, and you need to push the government to draft and table the Bill," said Mr Ndugai as he winded up the morning session on March, this year.
"If you relax, five years will pass and nothing will happen. You need to put this issue on your list of things to do," he told the team members.