Families will contribute Shillings 15,000 to the insurance pool for each member of their household should the cabinet approve the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme bill, the Health Minister, Dr., Ruth Aceng has revealed. There have been various failed attempts by the Health Ministry to establish the national health insurance scheme since 2004.
The latest attempt was last year when parliament passed the bill only to be withdrawn shortly after. Now, Aceng says in the new proposals, they are making it mandatory for everyone to join the scheme after establishing that Ugandans don’t appreciate what they don’t pay for.
She adds that the more dependants one has, the more money they will be required to contribute to the pool.
However, experts differ from the idea of having everyone contribute. In an earlier interview with URN, for instance, Dr. Githinji Gitahi, the AMREF Health Africa Chief Executive Officer suggested that the government does mapping to determine, which people can afford to contribute irrespective of whether they work in the informal or formal sector.
He suggests the use of Village Health Teams (VHTs) to determine those who can afford the annual contribution and this he says has to be a continuous process because poverty levels keep changing. On her part, Grace Kiwanuka the Executive Director of the Uganda Healthcare Federation (UHF), says that the government’s proposal to have everyone pay irrespective of their financial capacity is a welcome move as it will protect the integrity of the fund.
“Where people don’t contribute experience globally is all beneficiaries need to contribute to appreciate the scheme and not to abuse it. To ensure the risk pool is managed, they consume responsibly because their money is in there as well,” she said.
According to her, people are already paying for their healthcare anyway and that health cannot be free or funded fully by the government as there is no big enough tax base. However, in the new proposals, the formally employed who are already covered by private health insurance will continue with their insurance plans already subscribed to, though they will still be mandatorily required to contribute to the NHIS.