The Government has been asked to consider making health insurance compulsory to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improve the quality of medical care in the country.
Kisumu County Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o and his Nyeri counterpart Mutahi Kahiga said health was critical for the growth of the nation adding that the current health financing structure in the country which is voluntary was not working.
Nyong’o said the debate on the matter shall be tabled at the Council of Governors (COG) for further deliberations before it is escalated.
“If Motor Vehicle Insurance is compulsory it is only fair that you make it compulsory for the person driving the vehicle to have a medical cover as well,” he said.
The Governors were speaking during the launch of an affordable and accessible medical cover targeting the vulnerable, the two leaders rooted support for the liberalization of medical supplies.
Governor Mutahi, who was the chief guest at the launch, said counties continued to experience shortages in supply through the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).
“We must liberalize the sector to ensure that counties get the cheapest, most effective and useful drugs on time,” he said.
The health insurance dubbed Marwa Kisumu Solidarity Health Cover, targets 45,000 indigents in the first phase with the program expected to be scaled up to 90,000 households.
In 2020, the county government signed a memorandum of Understanding with NHIF for funding and provision of social health insurance cover to its vulnerable households.
The indigents were identified based on their social and economic status during the roll out of the pilot Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program.
Through Marwa, Governor Nyong’o said the county government has set aside Ksh 65.5 million.
The county government, he said, will pay Ksh 6, 000 for each of the vulnerable households enrolled to enable them access medical care.
To achieve UHC in the area, he added those with ability to pay would be reached out to join the solidarity fund where about 48 health facilities have been mapped across the county to roll out the program.
NHIF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Kamunyo said health insurance financing was the way to go to enable the country achieve UHC.
Dr. Kamunyo disclosed that about 5.9 million Kenyans according to the 2019 census have been identified as indigents who are completely unable to pay for medical cover.
“Our target is to have not less than 80% of Kenyans accessing quality medical care. We must therefore be in a position to support those who cannot pay,” he said.
The national government, he said has taken over one million households across the country who are being supported through NHIF to access medical care.
The number, he said would be scaled up as the national UHC program is rolled out to bring the country closer to achieving universal access to health.
The Marwa program, he said, was a good example to be emulated by other county governments saying if implemented fully Kisumu will be among the first to attain UHC.
Kisumu county, he said, has mapped out 121, 335 indigents out of which the county government has taken over 90, 000 with an additional 22, 000 being supported by the national government.
“This leaves out just about 10, 000 which means as a county we are at the apex of realizing UHC,” he said.
The NHIF, he said targets to increase coverage across the country to enable Kenyans access quality medical care, adding that so far a total of 8, 200 facilities have been contracted.
Majority of Kenyans, he said, continue to prefer private health facilities over public facilities urging county governments to invest in health infrastructure and improve services to reverse the trend.
Kisumu Committee of Eminent Persons on Covid-19 chairman Prof. Khama Rogo said it was unfortunate that public health facilities which have some of the best facilities and human resources continue to lose out to private facilities.
“Some of these private health facilities do not have the kind of equipment we have at our public facilities. Furthermore they rely heavily on our doctors and other medical staff,” he said.
He challenged county governments to improve on service delivery at public health facilities to restore public confidence.