MPs, on Tuesday, approved changes to the NHIF Act which now makes it compulsory for every adult to contribute a minimum of Shs 6, 000 annually.
The more than 20 million eligible Kenyans will now contribute more than Shs 120 billion to the NHIF annually.
Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) Secretary-General Stephen Mutoro says President Uhuru Kenyatta should not assent to the amended NHIF law as the would-be law cannot stand basic legal challenge on many fronts.
“While NHIF is demanding a mandatory minimum monetary payout from members and employers, it has lesser accountability. For an organization whose other name is corruption that is most worrying especially when the NHIF board is reduced to government composition.”
Mutoro says the reality is that employers are unlikely to top up NHIF contributions as that amounts to salary increments. “Majority will have to use the employee income to comply if they must. It also raises contractual questions between the employer and the employee.”
As for the unemployed, Mutoro says, there is zero mechanisms to enforce the contributions especially for the majority of Kenyans who genuinely cannot even afford money for their food.
He adds: “The basic structure of NHIF on its offerings as well as accountability needed to have been amended before asking for huge contributions before an election year.”
He argues that mandatory health contributions for NHIF have never worked. “It will never work in Kenya. The forces behind the new form of taxation and levies must go slow and address the proposed service delivery before asking for more money.”
Cofek has already asked its’ lawyers to review the law to challenge it in court should the bill be assented ‘as is’.
By Frank Akunga