Polygamous Families to Pay More Under Social Health Insurance Fund

Ministry of Health's Afya House Building in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ministry of Health's Afya House Building in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ministry of Health

Polygamous families are poised to encounter further deductions to cover their households under the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF).

This follows the Ministry of Health's classification of men with two wives as two separate households, irrespective of the number of dependents in each household.

During an appearance before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Health on Tuesday, February 27, the Ministry of Health faced criticism from the committee for implementing a discriminatory regulation.

According to the legislators, this regulation overlooks the rights of individuals in polygamous marriages, despite such unions being constitutionally permitted.

A photo of health CS Nakhumicha, speaking to the parliamentary committee on February 15
A photo of health CS Nakhumicha, speaking to the Parliamentary Committee on February 15
Susan Nakhumicha

The lawmakers thus demanded regulatory adjustments to ensure that polygamous marriages adhere to the same deductions criteria applied to monogamous relationships.

"You are going against the laws of Kenya that allow polygamy. If you treat a household with two wives as two households it is double jeopardy," stated MP Julius Sunkuli.

Don't run away from the definition that wife is in singular spouse does not mean it is one spouse,"  the legislator added.

Even so, the Ministry of Health defended its decision, stating that the new Act aims to create equity among SHIF beneficiaries.

Under the new health fund, men with more than one wife must pay 2.75% for each household, for instance, those with two wives will face a 5.5% deduction of their gross salary, while those with three wives face an 8.25% deduction.

The controversial proposals on polygamous families come against the backdrop of the recent announcement by the Ministry of Health extending the date for deductions to July.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha while announcing the new dates for deductions, maintained that the registration would commence in March and end on June 30.

However, the Council of Governors accused the Ministry of Health of rushing to implement SHIF, stating the ministry bypassed their input and only involved them when announcing new inclusions to the regulation.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha attending the Transition Committee on the Social Health Authority on February 23, 2024.
Susan Nakhumicha