On 17 October, Kenya’s President, William Ruto signed the four healthcare bills, Social Health Insurance Bill, Primary Health Care Bill, Facility Improvement Financing Bill, and Digital Health Bill into law after they were passed by the Parliament recently.
The Social Health Insurance Act 2023 as the laws are collectively called, sets forth a comprehensive strategy to revamp Kenya’s healthcare financing system. This legislation aims to address the longstanding issues that have plagued the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) while simultaneously expanding the scope of health insurance coverage.
The Act establishes the Social Health Authority, replacing NHIF.
Under the umbrella of three new funds, including the Primary Healthcare Fund and Social Health Insurance Fund, the Kenya Kwanza administration pledges to deliver comprehensive healthcare coverage for the entire Kenyan population.
The Act plans to allocate resources to cover emergency and chronic care to bring much-needed relief. It will also improve access to emergency care, avoiding situations where accident victims without the means to pay are either turned away from hospitals or hospitals are forced to bear costs without proper compensation. Another positive proposal is the allocation of resources to primary healthcare (PHC). This is a significant break from the hitherto hospital-centric NHIF that has privileged expensive tertiary and secondary care.
Services under the new Act will be financed through taxation. Kenyans working in the formal sector will be required to make a monthly contribution of 2.75 per cent of their earnings to support the services. The minimum and maximum contributions are capped at Ksh300 (1.99 USD) and Ksh5,000 (33.15 USD) respectively.
The provisions of the Act can be found in the Social Health Insurance Bill.
Watch this space for the Social Health Insurance Act.