NHIF Owes Catholic Hospitals Ksh 2B

A group picture of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has pressed the government for immediate action to settle outstanding debts amounting to more than Ksh2 billion.

These debts have accumulated from services provided by Catholic hospitals to patients under the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), which is set to be replaced by the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) in July 2024.

The bishops have highlighted a longstanding issue, noting, “We have on various occasions raised to the government the very unjust fact that the faith-based hospitals are owed huge amounts by the NHIF.”

In a press conference on Thursday, April 11, the bishops said the consequences of these unpaid debts have been stark, with many hospitals struggling to maintain operations like the purchase of medicines and payment of staff.

“The effect is that most of our hospitals are crippled and unable to operate optimally,” the bishops added, painting a grim picture of the healthcare situation.

Amid concerns over the transition to SHIF, the bishops decried the lack of assurances from the government that the owed funds would be disbursed.

“Our inquiries on whether our debts will be honoured have been met with more promises but no legal guarantees. This is not only unfair but unjust,” they lamented, voicing their frustration over the government’s handling of the situation.

Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kisumu, the new chairperson of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Radio Waumini

The Catholic Church is a major healthcare provider, operating nearly a third of all health facilities across the country. This extensive network includes 451 health units, encompassing 69 hospitals, 117 health centres, 14 medical training colleges, and 251 dispensaries. 

The issue of unpaid NHIF claims has led to significant disruptions in healthcare services, with around 400 rural private hospitals halting services to NHIF cardholders last month.

Both the Kenya Association of Private Hospitals and the Rural Private Hospitals Association of Kenya (Rupha) have left the NHIF, citing outstanding debts totaling billions of dollars that have negatively affected their business operations.

Rupha recently revealed that the total amount of Ksh2.3 billion that NHIF owes its members for general claims, Ksh2 billion for the Linda Mama programme, and Ksh1.8 billion for outpatient claims is due to them. 

These outstanding bills have made it extremely difficult for hospitals to deliver quality community health services.

The escalating challenges faced by NHIF have cast doubt on the state's readiness for the transition to the Social Health Authority (SHA), which is poised to take over from NHIF starting July 1. 

In response to these concerns, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha assured that the enactment of the Universal Health Coverage Bills would facilitate a smooth transition.

Nakhumicha remained optimistic, stating, “Under my leadership, I will ensure that the transition between the SHIF and the NHIF is smooth and seamless.” 

She further sought to reassure all stakeholders, “There should be no fear or panic, it's all for the greater good. As a ministry, your welfare is our top priority, including the protection of all your hard-earned benefits.”

Health CS Susan Nakhumicha during a meeting with Kenyatta National University Hospital (KNH) leadership on March 20, 2024
Health CS Susan Nakhumicha during a meeting with Kenyatta National University Hospital (KNH) leadership on March 20, 2024
Ministry of Health