Kenya: NHIF Cuts Payout for Dialysis Sessions

26 September 2021

The number of patients seeking renal dialysis has shot up as the national insurer plans to cut payouts for the condition.

Payments for renal dialysis have more than tripled in the last four years and the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has paid out Sh3.844 billion for 295,563 patient claims.

This, according to the Fund, represents a 208 per cent jump from the Sh1.247 billion it paid for dialysis in the financial year ended June 2017.

NHIF announced on Friday that it is going to cut renal dialysis payments from the current Sh9, 500 to Sh6, 000, a move that will deal a major blow to patients. The Fund seeks to reduce bills for the weekly procedure by Sh1 billion annually to Sh2.7 billion. NHIF members are entitled to two weekly sessions of dialysis, pushing the total annual payment per patient to an average of Sh960,000 at the current rates.

NHIF chief executive Peter Kamunyo said a significant number of kidney patients joined the fund after falling ill.

"We have patients paying Sh6,000 annually and receiving benefits of nearly Sh1 million per year. This is a burden to NHIF," Mr Kamunyo said.

Kidney failure

Over four million Kenyans suffer chronic kidney disease, with a significant proportion of this population progressing to kidney failure.

Out of these, about 10,000 people have end-stage renal disease and require dialysis, yet only 10 per cent of those who need it are able to access the service.

From spending Sh20,000 to Sh35,000 a month on dialysis in public hospitals to paying nothing, thanks to NHIF, Mr Maurice Okello, who hails from Siaya told the Sunday Nation the government is out to kill them.

"Some of us fully depend on NHIF to pay for our dialysis and since they are only catering for two sessions per week, should you need more you need to add money. Now I will have to top up to get my sessions," says Mr Okello who gets his dialysis at the Siaya County Referral Hospital.

From 700 sessions a month in 2015 to over 500,000 sessions over the same period in 2020, all the 54 renal units countrywide have registered growing demand, with experts saying they are still overwhelmed.

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