Hospitals have been turning away senior citizens who were automatically registered under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Inua Jamii 70+ programme.
Senior citizens who were promised free NHIF Super cover, which pays up to 80 per cent of a member’s medical bills, including for CT scans, surgery, blood transfusion and treatment for fractures, have for the last three months been unable to access any of the free services.
The 523,000 beneficiaries have complained of frustrations since the launch of the cash transfer programme last year.
Prof Karega Munene has been paying for his mother’s treatment since August. “She went to a facility in Nakuru and was told money has never been sent to cover her medical services,” said Prof Munene.
Another patient in Nairobi, Mr Peter Njenga, said when he first needed cataract surgery three months ago he had to dig deep in his pockets because NHIF did not pay a single cent, including the outpatient services.
“These three months have been hard for me because I have not been able to access the said free services. I now need a scan, which costs about Sh60,000, for something different and I know NHIF cannot assist,” he said.
Sources at the national insurer revealed that the National Treasury is yet to release cash for payment of the monthly premiums.
“Delay of funds from Treasury has hampered delivery of these services. The NHIF is just an administrator of this noble function, and so there is nothing that can be done if the money does not trickle down,” he said.
Acting Chief Executive Officer Nicodemus Odongo said the programme was under the Ministry of Health, therefore they are the ones authorised to give updates on the same.
Efforts to reach the ministry's acting Director General, Dr Wekesa Masasabi, were futile.
The scheme is an enhancement of the previous cash transfer initiated in 2012 targeting individuals aged above 65 and living in extreme poverty.