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Yes, Kenyan Cabinet nominee wants voluntary national health insurance payments to become mandatory

Mutahi Kagwe, a nominee for the health docket in Kenya’s Cabinet, is seeking to reform the country’s National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) “to make it mandatory for all Kenyans to make contributions to the fund”.

That’s the claim in a Facebook post flagged as potentially false by the social network’s fact-checking system.

Has Kagwe really proposed these changes? We checked.

National health insurance

Any Kenyan citizen or resident, 18 years or older and earning more than KSh12,000 a year, is required to register with the NHIF. Those in formal employment contribute a minimum of KSh500 to a maximum of KSh1700 a month, depending on their income. This is deducted by the employer. Those who join voluntarily contribute KSh6,000 a year, or KSh500 a month. 

According to the Facebook post, it is these voluntary contributions that Kagwe wants to do away with. He wants every Kenyan aged 18 or more to pay for the national health insurance. 

‘Move voluntary contributions to mandatory contributions’

A video of Kagwe’s vetting before a committee of Kenya’s national assembly has been posted on YouTube.

Here’s what he said: “As you know, NHIF gets its money from mandatory contributions that are made through companies, voluntary contributions as well as government tax funding. Mr chairman, my belief is that at some point we have to move a bit of the voluntary contributions to mandatory contributions.”

He added: “If you look at the countries that have moved to success in universal healthcare they have moved a lot of voluntary contributions to mandatory contributions ... I’ll be seeking the support of this house in legislation.”

Yes, Kagwe proposed that voluntary NHIF contributions become mandatory. – Grace Gichuhi


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