By Mourice Seretta
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Wednesday said that the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) card cannot enable patients ailing from Covid-19 to get treatment at any hospital in the country.
Speaking when he appeared before the Senate Health Committee together with NHIF Chief Executive Officer Peter Kamunyo, to respond to why NHIF and some private insurance firms had declined to foot Covid-19 bills, Kagwe said that was due to the fact that using the card was expensive and unsustainable even for private insurance firms to foot the Covid-19 bills.
“It is not practical for NHIF and private insurance companies to cover pandemics,” Kagwe said.
However, Kagwe said that the government has in the recent past subsidized and wrote off treatment costs for poor Kenyans unable to pay their Covid-19 bills.
“It would not have been financially viable for NHIF to finance the treatment of Covid-19 for the current National Enhanced Medical Scheme members of the Fund, or a National Covid-19 response modeled under UHC, without external financing specific to the reimbursement of the pandemic related expenses, and at specific hospitals,” Kagwe said.
The Health CS further said he had ordered the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) to release Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and masks lying idle in their warehouses after counties and other bodies declined to procure them as they were expensive.
He also ordered Kemsa to allow counties to draw the products at the current market prices.