Even after being in place for over 56 years, comparatively fewer Kenyans really understand the actual benefits that accrue from National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).
The Fund’s core mandate is to provide medical insurance cover to all its members and their spouses and children. Given the diversity of our country’s population in terms of health needs, socio-economic level, distance from the capital Nairobi, among other issues, different people understand the NHIF differently.
One basic reason is the form, content and even frequency of communication from NHIF to the public.
As a public entity, nearly everyone knows about NHIF. But not everyone who knows NHIF fully understands its’ products well.
While significant success has been made and indeed communication of NHIF goes well beyond the actual content, the targeted audience and its’ dynamics vary.
Increasingly, the ordinary Kenyan is bedeviled with coping with the surging cost of living. Ways and means of reaching such a person, representing millions of others, call for linking of the NHIF communication on matters of people’s lives and their livelihoods.
There is no single panacea to reaching out this diversified audience that NHIF needs to reach.
Use of multiple platforms such as internet and social media, for instance, while cost-effective would leave out many people who may not access and or afford use of internet.
Use of mainstream media may still encounter hurdles where vernacular and or regional radio stations are not used.
A combination of the form, content and modes of such communication especially based on research would address some of these teething challenge.
Issues for Cofek
Kenya’s health financing sector relies on insurance both within the private and the public sectors. NHIF is the single-largest insurer for majority Kenyans.
Over the years, the Fund has made a lot of reforms in ensuring cost-efficiency to its’ members. Being a public entity, the premiums have remained comparatively low.
The NHIF, as a social medical insurer, focuses on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) where all individuals – both the poor and the non-poor receive same and or similar quality of medical services.
NHIF works closely with various medical facilities that offer the last mile service to their members.
With time, however, a lot of questions continue to linger around the NHIF services and how the same are understood by its’ members – existing and potential.
As a result, the NHIF services are neither fully understood nor evenly acknowledged by different people under the radar of NHIF communicators.
It has become necessary that Cofek, as a representative of consumers of NHIF services, is convening the Consumers Dialogue Forum (CDF) to follow through various issues including but not limited to the following;
First, to inform, educate and communicate to Cofek members and the general public on the need for improved and sustained uptake of NHIF services and various products
Second, ensure that NHIF clientele fully understand the offerings and maximize the benefits out of the same
Third, encourage and promote wider participation from multiple stakeholders in the medical sector in the use and management of NHIF services
Fourth, persuade stakeholders to work with NHIF in developing incentives and special products in the realization of UHC
Fifth, generate collaborations between NHIF, COFEK and other medical associations partners
Finally, document lessons learnt and draw a roadmap of reaching out to the target audience.
In order to broaden the conversation and follow-through, and as a way of enhancing uptake of NHIF services and promote the faster realization of UHC, Cofek has planned a half-day workshops to bring stakeholders together with a view to not only understanding – but appreciating the end-user feeling and feedback on its’ key service.
Cofek will at these forum take on board technical and related areas around health and medical sector with professional and practitioner associations and entities.
Cofek intends to bring on board private medical insurers, the insurance regulator and the demand side of the medical insurance – including organizations dealing with patient rights.
A representative of policy makers, health financing institutions, development partners keen on UHC and legislators especially the Health Committee of parliament (once back in session).
Health academia, unions, professionals, students and private sector will equally be involved.
Cofek is looking at a one-stop, inclusive, health forum like no other – which offers comprehensive and integrated sustainable and good quality health financing mechanisms between government, non-state actors, patients and ordinary Kenyans.
Keen to participate?
Participation is open to all people with a demonstrated interest in the health sector generally and health financing sub-sector.