Nyeri County Governor Mutahi Kahiga has urged the residents to enroll with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cushion themselves against exorbitant hospital bills and reduce exacerbation of poverty occasioned by the bills.
Kahiga noted that many families have been plunged into poverty by the bills that could have been saved by rebates from NHIF.
Kahiga spoke Thursday at Wamagana Education hall in Tetu Sub County during the official launch of the NHIF and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) mass biometric registration in the area.
Kahiga said that the County is set to increase the uptake of NHIF members because of the dwindling numbers occasioned by the UHC that had Nyeri as one of the pilot counties.
“The numbers of NHIF uptake dwindled with the introduction of UHC to about 19 per cent from a high number of about 43-44 per cent,” Kahiga said.
He added that late last year, the county carried out a survey of vulnerable families to benefit from the national government and the mass NHIF biometric registration targeted to shore up the number.
The County boss at the same time added that the exercise also aimed at creating an awareness surrounding NHIF to sensitize residents on the benefits to be accrued from enrolling with the health insurance.
“Kenyans in general should know that NHIF is the cheapest health cover you can get in this country on the services it offers,” Kahiga asserted.
Such services, the Governor said included dialysis, chemotherapy, and outpatient and inpatient treatment among others at no extra costs.
Kahiga said the county targeted about 1,500 households per ward that translates to about 45,000 in the region which has 30 wards and to 100,000 beneficiaries.
The Governor noted that the piloting UHC made the county learn several key life situations, citing a sickling population but could not afford medical care.
“If we look at the number that surged in our hospitals and dispensaries, we note that there are people who are suffering but cannot afford Medicare,” he said.
He disclosed that this prompted the county to reduce hospital charges to bare minimum and come up with the Nyeri County Health Services Bill which was gazetted recently.
The bill proposes among other things, that 80 per cent of all monies collected from hospitals will remain at the mother hospital and 20 per cent disbursed to dispensaries and health centres to purchase drugs and other necessities.
He added that shortage of drugs in the local health facilities will be a thing of the past.
Speaking during the same occasion, NHIF ICT director Washington Okoth said UHC mass biometric registration exercise targeted four main categories, the vulnerable identified by the county government to benefit from the national government sponsorship, current NHIF members, new membership and dependents of NHIF members to be registered biometrically.