The government will now enrol all the 1.3 million people above the age of 70 years in the National Health Insurance Programme, Deputy President William Ruto said today.
Speaking at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies when he officially opened the second National Social Protection Conference, Mr Ruto said the step is in line with the government’s aim of achieving universal health coverage.
“The government will give them free National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover to enable them to access medication,” he said.
He asked Parliament to prioritise legislation aimed at improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Scaling up investment in social protection: A contribution to the delivery of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the achievement of the SDGs”.
Mr Ruto said that an additional 530,000 people above 70 years will start receiving cash by month's end.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection says that only elderly people who do not receive pension are eligible for the cash transfer programme.
The Principal Secretary for Social Protection, Pensions and Senior Citizens, Ms Susan Mochache, said the Ministry is verifying details of the additional people to ensure that they qualify before the funds are released.
“We have recruited four banks — Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Cooperative Bank and Post Bank — to help the ministry pay the funds to the elderly persons,” she said.
Mr Ruto asked the Ministry to ensure that the payments are timely, and to avoid delays reported in the past.
“We still have a huge population that is not captured in our programme. Therefore, we need to source for more funds to enable us to capture more vulnerable persons,” Mr Ruto said.
He added that the government will in future consider enacting legislation to ensure that employers contribute towards healthcare of the vulnerable.
Meanwhile, Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani said the ministry is developing a social protection investment plan that will promote social justice in the country.
It will also ensure youth benefit from internship programmes and apprenticeships.