EDITORIAL: Ensure prudent NHIF use - Daily Nation

Ensure prudent NHIF use

Thursday September 6 2018

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The government plans to review contributions by workers to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). This, it says, will ensure that the monthly deductions match the employees’ earnings.

Deputy President William Ruto says that a legislative process is underway in Parliament, seeking to effect the increment by amending the NHIF Act.

Among other things, the Bill seeks to double the Sh1,700 that the top tier of contributors make to the NHIF to fund the Universal Health Care.

The proposal comes barely three years after the NHIF raised workers’ contributions from a monthly flat rate of Sh320 to a graduated scale of between Sh500 and Sh1,700 based on each worker’s pay.

COLLECTED SH23.6 BILLION

Official figures show that in the six months to last December, the NHIF collected Sh23.6 billion from its seven million members. It then paid out Sh17.3 billion in claims, and spent Sh3.2 billion as operational expenses, leaving a half-year surplus of Sh3.1 billion.

Though the motive behind this planned increase is noble, as it will bring more Kenyans under the NHIF cover, the timing and manner in which the State, with the support of Parliament, is going about it, leaves a lot to be desired.

It follows a well-beaten path of simply passing on costs to workers, who are already shouldering a huge tax burden.

INCREASE CONTRIBUTIONS

What is worrying is that even as the government pushes to increase the contributions, it is doing little to assure Kenyans that the billions they channel to NHIF every year are being put to good use and that there is no wastage or pilferage.

The State must now evaluate the NHIF’s income and expenditure to establish that every shilling that the contributors so religiously give is used prudently and satisfactorily. Only then, should options such as increasing the monthly contributions once again be considered.