President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the ministry of health to halt the implementation of new changes announced by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
In a raft of changes, NHIF stated that married individuals can only include one spouse and a maximum of five children as dependents.
“Additional dependents can be included subject to payment of additional premiums to be communicated after actual variations,” a circular sent out by NHIF reads in part.
The changes which took effect at the beginning of this year require voluntary members who pay an annual subscription of Ksh6,000 upfront and wait for six months before they can access services.
Speaking in Mombasa on Monday during the State of the Nation Adress, the President stated that the move will allow for further consultations.
The changes had attracted an angry reaction from members of the public who termed them as punitive.
The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) weighed in on the new rules terming them as retrogressive.
In a statement, COTU Deputy Secretary-General Benson Okwaro said its unfortunate that NHIF didn’t consult before imposing the new changes.
“We have written to the fund seeking clarification and a meeting… We will not be part of their punitive agenda. We will explore all avenues to prevent the fund from taking advantage of our members, ” said Okwaro.
In the new changes, NHIF stated that penalty on defaulting beneficiaries had been retained at 50 percent of the monthly contribution for each month paid late, up to 11 months, coupled with requirement to pay for one year in advance and a restriction of 30 days before being eligible for benefits.
“In case of default for 12 months and above, the affected member will start payment afresh and be eligible for benefits after 90 days from the date of resumption of payment in addition to a one year upfront payment, payable within the waiting period while observing due dates,” said NHIF.
Voluntary Members access to maternity benefit was restricted to six months postcard maturity for principal members or spouse declared at the point of registration.
“For both Maternity and Specialized Services, any dependent declared after initial registration shall be subjected to a 6-month waiting period after such declaration with exception of newborns who shall be considered eligible for benefit provided they are declared within 6 months from the date of birth,” said NHIF.
NHIF further indicated that inpatient and outpatient additional dependents would be eligible for benefit after 30 days waiting period, even in case of change of spouse.
In the changes, access to specialized services was restricted to six-month waiting period following card maturity for new members. For defaulters, NHIF stated that the members would be required to pay all penalties and one-year upfront payment of contributions coupled with a 30-day waiting period thereafter.