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Covid-19 patients need help with bills

By Editorial Team
Thursday, August 13th, 2020
A doctor gets specimen for Covid-19 test. Photo/PD/File
In summary

That the coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the Kenyan society is obvious. Equally evident is that the nature of the pandemic is yet to be fully understood.

Daily, people are trudging to hospitals to seek treatment for symptoms of Covid-19 with the hope they’ll pull through the disease.

So far, out of 28,104 who have tested positive, 14,610 have recovered, meaning about half are battling the ailment in different phases.

These Kenyans need all the support they can get. The pandemic has battered economies and individuals are hurting.

It is the government’s prerogative to ensure that the cost of treating the disease is not left entirely to the patient. Insurance companies, as has been their policy, do not cover pandemics.

However, the scale of Covid-19 is unprecedented, which calls for a rethink of their policies.

Indeed, what does it gain an insurer to keep the money and lose the policy holder?

The government, through the acting Director General for Health Patrick Amoth, has said it can no longer foot Covid-19 bills because they have become unbearable.

A paltry 20 per cent of Kenyans have health insurance; out of which 80 per cent are insured by the NHIF. 

It is callous for the government to leave Covid patients to their own devices. This could work against the fight as many patients may opt to stay at home instead of seeking treatment.

And even if insurance firms changed their policies; theirs is a small fraction.

An additional hospital bill will be draining an already impoverished society.

Wouldn’t it be better for the government to cost-share the bill instead of abandoning patients completely?

At an average of Sh50,000 a day to treat a critical care patient and Sh25,000 for one with mild symptoms, many Kenyans would struggle to pay.

The high cost coupled with underhand dealings by charlatans and decadents, will only worsen the situation.

Kenyans need to be held by the hand to overcome the vagaries the pandemic has brought.

World over countries that have recorded relative success in the Covid-19 fight have greatly subsidised costs of treatment and that of testing.

Rwanda has been hailed by the World Health Organisation for their success in fighting the pandemic, which includes free testing and treatment of those getting infected.

The government should find ways of shouldering some of the pain, if Kenyans are going to pull through. 

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