Jobless Kenyans will now be exempted from mandatory contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).
The Senate has brought changes to the NHIF (Amendment) Bill, removing the provision requiring every Kenyan above the age of 18 years to contribute to the national insurer.
In September, the National Assembly approved the government-backed bill, requiring that all Kenyan adults enroll with the fund and pay at least Kes500 monthly or Kes6,000 annually in the re-modeled Universal Health Coverage scheme.
“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 reads.
Lauding the National Assembly for approving the Bill, Health PS Susan Mochache said the proposed law will expand the population of Kenyans under universal health coverage.
In July, the Association of Kenya Insurers said the proposed changes in the NHIF Act would increase the cost of health care, labor expenses among employers and push medical insurers out of business.
The senators, however, amended the Bill to exempt employers from mandatorily 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 an application to the NHIF board to be exempted from topping up the contributions for their workers.
Earlier, employers had petitioned Parliament to remove the proposal requiring them to match their workers’ NHIF contributions arguing that it would add a burden to them as they struggle to recover from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.