In a move seen as an attempt to stem the surge in hospital expenses, Kenya lawmakers have backed an ammendment to a law that will grant the State powers to control medical bills.
The National Assembly Committee on Health approved the proposed amendments to the Health Act 2017 that will see medical charges regulated by an 11-member council that includes the Principal Secretary for Health and the Attorney-General.
According to the Chairman of the parliamentary committee, Sabina Chege, she stated that having considered the National Assembly Bill No 14 of 2021, the committee recommends that the House approve the Bill to amend Section 31 of the Health Act of 2017 to have the Kenya Health Human Resource Advisory Council (KHHRAC) determine prices for medical services and doctor’s consultation fees.
KHHRAC currently oversees recruitment functions in the public healthcare system, including posting and transfers of all medical personnel.
The committee also agreed to changes that will criminalize private and public health facilities demanding down payment as a condition to providing emergency medical services.
If approved by the House, the law will see hospital charges included in a list of essential services controlled by the government in the push to make basic items affordable.
The cost of medical services has surged in recent years in Kenya, thereby making health treatment unaffordable for households who lack insurance cover and whose financial resources has been badly hit by the covid-19 pandemic.
The committee’s report awaits Parliamentary approval before it can be presented to the President for assent.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ Integrated Households Budget Survey report released in 2019 shows that more than 81 percent of Kenyans have no insurance or pay for the medical bills out of pocket.
This means that only 19 percent of the Kenyans have some form of medical insurance.
The report shows 17.8 percent of households primarily depend on the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) while the remaining 1.16 percent are under private or arranged cover.
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