In Kenya, though access to quality health care is a constitutional right, the scarcity of quality public and private health facilities, as well as the incredibly high cost of healthcare even when it is available, makes being sick a never-ending nightmare in Kenya.
According to a survey done as part of the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS) 2015/2016 report, only 19% of the proportion of the population had an insurance cover. Of those who are insured, 91 per cent have a health insurance cover, of which the leading provider is the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) at 81 per cent.
Something really is amiss about health care cover in the country and the reality remains – in Kenya, those who access quality healthcare services are those who are able to afford it and those of us who can’t, can’t even rely on our employees to provide healthcare cover.
That there are organizations where they don't give their employees healthcare cover and still pay peanuts and yet expect maximum output is beyond unethical.
— 🇰🇪NyaguthiiWicked™🇰🇪 (@_omalicha__) August 15, 2018
Most of our annual incomes (if we have any) goes into paying for our families’ health care which is sometimes more than what spent on food, rent and other basic necessities; and most of these times, this healthcare isn’t exclusive to what you really need and you even end up paying for more than you bargained for [if you’re not careful, some hospitals can end up overcharging for things you didn’t use or need]
Even so, not everything is covered by insurance covers. Patients who have life-threatening conditions like cancer as seen as risks or liabilities due to all the procedures, medicines and outpatient & inpatient visits, thus most covers only insure upto a certain point. Also, procedures like IVF (Invitro fertilization) are not covered by insurance. IVF can cost upto Kshs 500,000 and overall, the success rate for IVF is about 35 per cent, so what happens if it doesn’t work, does the couple give up because they don’t have the money to go through it again?
For Jasmine Zasu, a mother of one & teacher in Kilifi County, @Minet_Kenya really came through for her daughter who needs continuous occupational therapy for hemiparesis, a condition that causes weakness or inability to move one side of the body. pic.twitter.com/aR0h8pWPoJ
— Kenyan Collective 🇰🇪 (@KenCollective) August 14, 2018
Harambees are also becoming less popular. The last harambee I heard of didn’t go so well; with struggling families in upcountry and the daily pressures of making ends meet in the big city, we have less and less to contribute. This drives to resort to selling off property, or even making desperate appeals on social media to raise the necessary funds which sometimes doesn’t go as well considering the number of conmen around.
The fact remains that when illness eventually strikes, it takes a huge physical, emotional and most importantly financial toll on both the patient and their family.
However, even as we hope that one day everyone in the country can have access to affordable and quality healthcare, one of the biggest number of public servants in Kenya, teachers, have something to smile about when it comes to getting conducive medical covers – The Minet Teachers’ Medical Scheme.
I remember @shobanes some time this week reminding guys how medical care is expensive & such situations sometimes throw us off balance, especially if it's a terminal disease or a physical injury. As in honestly woe unto you if you fall sick in this our country 💔 pic.twitter.com/E8C4P2f4xe
— Kenyan Collective 🇰🇪 (@KenCollective) August 8, 2018
Registering with the Scheme is the wisest and greatest thing a teacher in the Public Service can ever think of doing, considering the current economic challenges. For one to be eligible for the cover, one has to be a teacher employed by the TSC and in active service. Dependents are also eligible for the cover, however, one is allowed only one legal spouse of the member and four unmarried biological or legally adopted children.
The registration process for the principal member (teacher) and their dependents is pretty simple and straight forward. It basically involves a USSD registration and a biometric registration ( this is done at the hospital). All the principal member has to do is dial*865#from their Safaricom or Airtel line, key in their TSC and National I.D numbers. If successful, one then is required to enter their name, role and gender. After which the teacher received a message confirming successful registration and a prompt to register dependents.
What I find remarkable about the cover is that it also covers chronic diseases which include but are not limited to: cancer, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, pepticulcer diseases, arthritis, cardiac failure, epilepsy, chronic renal disease, schizophrenia, bronchiectasis, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disorder, thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus and hyperlipidaemia.
Psychiatric & counselling services are also supported in the cover. This area covers psycho-social support programmes for employees for conditions such as chemical dependency, stress, post-traumatic counselling, relationship difficulties, anxiety and depression,
parenting, legal or financial distress, etc.
Of course there are numerous benefits of the cover, but this is a really big plus for teachers everywhere who don’t have to suffer in the weight of hospital bills anymore thanks to the Minet Teachers Medical Scheme