Moneyed mums push maternity charges sky-high

Maternity fees was abolished in public health facilities nearly four years ago.

Monday March 14 2016

Coast General Hospital Maternity Wing. Some expectant women choose to part with up to Sh130,000 to give birth at a private hospital and Sh53,000 and Sh152,000 for normal delivery and Caesarean section, respectively, in the private wing of a public hospital. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Coast General Hospital Maternity Wing. Some expectant women choose to part with up to Sh130,000 to give birth at a private hospital and Sh53,000 and Sh152,000 for normal delivery and Caesarean section, respectively, in the private wing of a public hospital. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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Young moneyed Kenyans are driving up maternity charges at private hospitals as they increasingly opt for premium services.

This is fuelled by the demand for “fast, quality health care” that the deep-pocketed Kenyans claim is not available in public hospitals.

Maternity fees was abolished in public health facilities nearly four years ago.

But some expectant women choose to part with up to Sh130,000 to give birth at a private hospital and Sh53,000 and Sh152,000 for normal delivery and Caesarean section, respectively, in the private wing of a public hospital.

Private hospitals have, in turn, swiftly set up luxurious birthing suites to meet the growing demand as a “middle-class and youthful population” with more disposable income increases, according to insurance companies, who foot most of the bills.

AAR Insurance Company Managing Director Caroline Munene explains: “We have a more youthful population and a rising middle class than ever.

“There is this impression that private hospitals offer better and quality services, so they would rather have their babies there.”

In the past couple of years, private hospitals such as Nairobi, Karen, MP Shah and Nairobi Women’s have almost doubled their maternity charges.

Despite charges for both normal and C-section deliveries rising by 90 per cent since 2013, when free maternity services were introduced in public facilities, some mothers prefer the exclusive services, which come at a premium.

HIGH CHARGES
In the past eight years, private hospitals have dramatically increased their maternity charges.

At MP Shah, for instance, normal delivery, which cost Sh70,000 in 2008, is Sh130,000 while C-section will set you back Sh260,000, up from Sh135,000.

At Sh64,000, Nairobi Women’s charges Sh19,000 higher for normal delivery while C-section is Sh145,000, up from Sh99,000.

It will cost a woman roughly Sh98,000, up from Sh55,000, to deliver a baby normally at Nairobi Hospital, and up to Sh220,000 by C-section, which used to cost Sh155,000.

The hospital’s marketing and customer services manager, Mr Tom Simba, said the rates have not changed in a long time but the number of patients has increased.

“My experience is that investors are now leaning towards creating a hotel-like level of comfort for patients that take in heavy investment and maintenance costs,” Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, who was until recently the Nairobi Hospital CEO, told Business Daily.

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