National Hospital Insurance Fund members will from February next year be able to use their cards to get treatment abroad.
NHIF announced recently that under its new “Chronic Disease Fund”, the insurer will pay up to Sh5 million for any of its members who needs treatment outside the country.
This benefit will be limited to only those patients with diseases that cannot be treated locally.
“This benefit is currently only available to members of the civil service and the armed forces. We now want to open it up to ensure that all our members are able to access treatment abroad in cases where the same treatment is not available locally,” said NHIF Chief Executive Officer Simeon Ole Kirgotty.
He added that the fund will also take into consideration patients who cannot access radiotherapy for cancer treatment at local hospitals due to over-crowding and lack of resources.
“We know that many of our members are frustrated because of the long lines for radiotherapy at Kenyatta and this will give them a chance to receive treatment abroad so that they do not have to wait too long. NHIF is also in talks with KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospitals to help them buy radiotherapy equipment to handle the crisis,” he said.
Under the new plan, chronic diseases such as cancers and kidney failure will be given priority.
This will significantly reduce the burden on poor patients who are pushed into debt by chronic diseases.
“It is for this reason that we will be targeting hospitals in India and Turkey to send our members to for treatment. We have floated a tender asking for hospitals to apply to be our partner institutions outside Kenya,” said Kirgotty.
To qualify for the funding, a patient will require a letter of proof from the Director of Medical Services.
The funding for foreign treatment will be the latest benefit enjoyed by NHIF card holders after the insurer raised contribution rates in a much criticized move earlier this year.
Under the new rates, the lowest contributions is Sh500 a month while the highest Sh1,700.