KAMARA
Kenya
NHIF
World Health Organisation

Healthcare inflation in Kenya and impact on your company

We are seeing this situation due to a number of factors (which are not unique to Kenya): People are living longer but not necessarily healthier lives; healthcare costs are actually going up; and more people are making more use of private health insurance. The impact on your organisation: Assuming you already provide private medical insurance for some or all of your staff, you will have probably noticed some increases in the premiums you pay. And, especially if your profits are under pressure for other reasons, the high price of continuing to provide the same level of medical cover might seem like a heavy burden.

Healthcare inflation in Kenya and impact on your company

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) currently account for around 27 per cent of all deaths of people in Kenya aged between 30 and 70. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

While the general rate of inflation in Kenya has dropped rapidly over the past year, healthcare inflation –— a measure of the cost of medical insurance premiums —has remained high. So in real terms your health company’s insurance premiums are likely to be going up. We are seeing this situation due to a number of factors (which are not unique to Kenya): People are living longer but not necessarily healthier lives; healthcare costs are actually going up; and more people are making more use of private health insurance.So what does it actually mean for your business? And what tools are at your disposal to address the problem?The impact on your organisation: Assuming you already provide private medical insurance for some or all of your staff, you will have probably noticed some increases in the premiums you pay. And, especially if your profits are under pressure for other reasons, the high price of continuing to provide the same level of medical cover might seem like a heavy burden.

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Even so, reducing your breadth of coverage, or even stopping providing private health insurance altogether, could be a costly mistake. Most people in Kenya who benefit from private medical insurance receive it as part of their employee benefits package. The benefits they receive are a major contributing factor to people feeling valued by their employer, leading to greater engagement and productivity.So a more positive approach to tackling the problem is to take action internally to try to bring down your health insurance outgoings.Help your employees get healthier: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), non-communicable diseases (NCDs) currently account for around 27 per cent of all deaths of people in Kenya aged between 30 and 70. Key risk factors include smoking, alcohol consumption, raised blood pressure, and obesity.One of the best ways to reduce the number of health insurance claims your staff make is to encourage healthier behaviour. Simple things like encouraging people to eat more healthily by making fruit available can make a difference. You could also encourage them to be more active by providing fitness activities at lunchtimes or even just putting signs next to lifts promoting the health benefits of taking the stairs instead.Getting employees involved in promoting healthy living is a great way to improve awareness of wellbeing in the workplace without appearing overbearing. Regular communications on wellbeing themes, through a staff newsletter, intranet or even notice boards, will also help to keep a positive approach to health at the front of employees’ minds.Make full use of NHIF to reduce claims costs: Despite facing many challenges since its creation in 1967, the NHIF has come to be a valuable and proud part of Kenya’s ongoing development. The extent of cover through the NHIF is limited and is usually available in full for Category A government health facilities and partial cover for private and higher-level clinics (category B and C respectively). It is vital to be aware, however, that the Kenyan government encourages the partial use of NHIF for health issues that may also require use of Category B and C facilities. In these cases, as much of a rebate as is applicable by the NHIF is offered, with the remainder paid by the employer or individual or in many cases the insurance provider. Encourage your staff to use the facilities and cover available under their NHIF plan for themselves and for their dependants, as this will help reduce the cost of claims on your insurance schemes and result in lower increases at renewal, ensuring long terms sustainability of your staff health insurance plan. In fact, many local insurance providers are already insisting on paying less than what is claimable under the NHIF plans.

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