Two trade unions want the National Hospital Insurance Fund to immediately initiate dialogue with stakeholders over its new rates.
Trade Union Congress (TUC) Chairman Tom Odege said it would be useless for the fund to force poor Kenyans to bankroll a project whose success is not guaranteed.
Mr Odege called on NHIF Chief Executive Officer Simon Kirgotty to consult stakeholders before taking any further steps on the rates.
“Attempts to have the matter subjected to constructive dialogue flopped after NHIF management went ahead to gazette the rates while talks were still on,” said Mr Odege.
“We have suggested the new rates should be based on an individual’s salary to ensure deductions do not leave Kenyans without something to eat. Otherwise, we will end up with everybody in hospital due to malnutrition.”
Mr Odege lamented that NHIF had sidelined civil servants, who are the major stakeholders in the fund. “Civil servants are not represented in NHIF and this is unacceptable. We want them to have representation so they can have a say in the management of the fund,” he added.
And speaking before leaving for an official trip in South Korea, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said teachers would demand refunds of last month’s deductions when the implementation of the rates started.
“NHIF must allow stakeholders to decide the fate of the fund. Arrogance will not subdue the resolve to oppose the rates,” said Mr Sossion.
“Teachers cannot afford the new rates. We have given our suggestions but the NHIF has refused to take our advice into consideration. That is why we will make sure it doesn’t take off. Teachers and other public servants must also be refunded,” said Mr Sossion who is also the TUC-K secretary-general.
He called on the government to go slow on the implementation of the new rates and invest in proper management of resources already at the disposal of the NHIF through the existing revenue system.
This week, NHIF published a list of 1,100 hospitals where Kenyans can access medical services under the new universal health care programme.
Mr Kirgotty insisted contributors stand to benefit more from the new scheme than the old one.
“Members will be required to choose health facilities nearer to them for outpatient services. We have finalised consultations on the list of health care facilities,” he said.
And NHIF chairman Mohamud Ali admitted the Fund was yet to enter into contracts with private hospitals to provide outpatient services.
Mr Ali told the Nation that the list of accredited hospitals published on Monday was not exhaustive. “It was based on hospitals already signed up for the Civil Servants Scheme, and who the insurer hopes will come on board of the new outpatient scheme as well,” said Mr Ali.
Meanwhile, a comprehensive medical scheme for more than 288,000 teachers now hangs in the balance after their union demanded more consultations.
Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers has written to the Teachers Service Commission chief executive officer Gabriel Lengoiboni demanding talks.
“The union demands that any further move towards another deduction towards the medical cover be subjected to thorough consultations,” Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori said in a letter dated May 19.