High medical bills making Kenyans poor, says Health CS


Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki PHOTO| COURTESY
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki PHOTO| COURTESY

In Summary

  • Millions of Kenyans have now been subjected to abject poverty after either being forced to sell their assets or their modest life savings wiped out by hefty medical bills.
  •  Speaking at Crowne Plaza during the commemoration of the World Health Day, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki noted that every year, about one million Kenyans are pushed below the poverty line and remain poor as a result of health care expenses.
  • Recent statistics by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) show that only 3% Kenyans have medical insurance. This further translates to 4 in every 5 Kenyans without access to medical insurance.

Millions of Kenyans are being forced into poverty every year due to extremely high medical bills that force them to sell their assets, go into debt whenever they fall sick.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki noted that every year, about one million Kenyans are pushed below the poverty line and remain poor as a result of huge healthcare expenses.

While reiterating the government’s commitment to making quality healthcare a reality to Kenyans, the CS, who was speaking during the commemoration of World Health Day, faulted the impoverishing health expenditures to increased out of pocket expenditures as a result of inequality.

“33.6% of Kenyans survive on Ksh.200 (2 dollars) or less per day which means that millions of Kenyans still cannot access proper healthcare,” said the CS.

Recent statistics by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) show that only 3% Kenyans have medical insurance. This further translates to 4 in every 5 Kenyans without access to medical insurance.

 

This promise comes in the backdrop of increased appeals for medical support from across the country, something CS Kariuki terms as unsustainable.

“Kenyans have been forced to rely on community support in the now famous ‘Harambees’ to pay their heavy medical bills,” noted the CS.

“Some people have had to forego treatment and sometimes when they finally seek treatment it’s either too late or leads to complications following the delay making treatment more expensive or leading to loss of life,” she added.

NHIF has however been up scaling its operations to boost coverage recently adding products such as MRIs and surgeries to its offering.

The state health insurer has at the same time scrapped the co-pay element, where members used to pay a certain amount to access health care services.

The hospital fund has contracted about 9000 healthcare facilities to provide services to an estimated 24 million beneficiaries.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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