COTU opposes new NHIF rules, terms them ‘punitive and retrogressive’


COTU opposes new NHIF rules, terms them 'punitive and retrogressive'
File image of National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) headquarters in Nairobi. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) has termed the new NHIF rules as punitive and retrogressive, insisting that the new measures are not benefiting hard working Kenyans.

Speaking on Sunday, COTU Deputy Secretary General Benson Okwaro demanded that NHIF withdraws a circular issued last week to allow for consultations with stakeholders.

“These NHIF changes are punitive and retrogessive. It is absurd for NHIF to do such without any consultations, yet other previous CEOs have always consulted,” said Okwaro.

He noted that COTU has written to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) seeking a clarification on the new regulations which include among other changes capping of those insured to a maximum of one wife and five children.

“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 the COTU Deputy Secretary General.

He added: “We don’t oppose any changes that the fund might want to undertake by all means, but it should be at the interest of the people.”

In a raft of changes contained in a memo sent out to all regional and branch managers, NHIF says married individuals will only be allowed to enlist a single spouse and a maximum of five children as beneficiaries.

The memo from the acting NHIF CEO further stipulated what has been termed as punitive measures aimed at curbing defaulters, a move that spells nightmares for Kenyans in the informal sector.

Members voluntarily joining the fund will now have to wait for 90 days before they start accessing services or benefits. In addition to that, one has to make a one year upfront payment within the waiting period.

If one makes a late payment, he or she will incur a fine of 50% of the monthly contribution coupled with a requirement to pay for one year in advance. He or she will be restricted against claiming benefits for a period of 30 days.

Defaulting for 12 months and above will force one to start payment afresh and can only be eligible for benefits after 90 days upon resumption of payment. A one year upfront payment will be applied and strict adherence to deadlines.

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