Lawmakers: It won’t be a must to remit NHIF dues

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 00:00 | By
National Hospital Insurance Fund headquarters in Upper Hill, Nairobi. Photo/File

It will not be mandatory to contribute to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

 This, is after MPs approved all the amendments made to the NHIF Amendment Act by the Senate, including one, which exempts unemployed Kenyans from making contributions to the fund.

Senators had amended the bill removing the provision requiring every Kenyan above 18 years to contribute to the fund.

By upholding the amendments from the Senate, the MPs saved parliament the rigorous process of forming a Mediation Committee to resolve the standoff surrounding the issue of whether it was mandatory for everybody above 18 to contribute to the fund.

When the matter was called up by Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi, members unanimously supported the amendments as contained in the Senate report.

During the State of the Nation Address, President Uhuru Kenyatta had appealed to MPs to fast-track the passage of the bill to ensure Kenyans get health coverage.

The National Assembly approved the government-backed bill, to make all Kenyan adults enroll with the fund.

UHC scheme

The bill required all adults to pay at least Sh500 monthly or Sh6,000 annually in the re-modelled Universal Health Coverage scheme.

The version from the National Assembly had proposed that the NHIF board would determine the rate that the unemployed Kenyans will pay to the fund.

“The national government and county government shall be liable as a contributor to the fund in respect of all public officers, state officers and employees working in the national and county government entities,” the bill read.

It adds; “Any other employer shall be liable as a contributor to the fund in respect of its employees.”

The senators also amended the bill to exempt employers from mandatory topping up contributions for their employees whose pay is less than Sh500.

“An employer other than the national government or county governments or their entities liable to pay a matching contribution under section 15 may be exempted from paying such matching contribution,

“.... if that employer has procured a private health insurance cover for its employees and the benefits are equal to or better than the benefits that the employees are entitled to under this Act,” the amendments read.

It provides that employers, other than the county and national government, can make application to the NHIF board to be exempted from topping up the contributions for their employees.

The lawmakers also amended the provision exempting national and county governments from penalties for failed or delayed disbursements to NHIF. The amendments also reduced the proposed penalty for non-remittance of standard and matching contributions from Sh1 million to Sh500,000.

 Members of the National Assembly had argued that county and national governments were exempted from penalties provided the delays in disbursement caused by the National Treasury.

However, the senators differed saying that the provision is discriminatory and amended it forthwith.

If passed by the National Assembly, Kenyans over the age of 18 should have been  compelled to pay Sh500 monthly or Sh6,000 annually in a remodelled Universal Health Coverage scheme.

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