Families may need to contribute Sh15,000 for each member of their household if the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme bill is approved by the cabinet, according to Health Minister Dr. Ruth Aceng. The Health Ministry has been trying to establish a national health insurance scheme since 2004, with previous attempts ending in failure.
The most recent attempt was last year when the bill was passed by parliament but later withdrawn. In the new proposals, Aceng suggests that it should be compulsory for everyone to join the scheme, as it was found that Ugandans tend to value and appreciate services they contribute to financially. She also mentions that the more dependents a person has, the higher their contribution to the pool will be.
However, experts hold differing opinions on the idea of universal contributions. Dr. Githinji Gitahi, the CEO of AMREF Health Africa, proposed that the government should conduct a mapping exercise to identify individuals who can afford to contribute, regardless of whether they work in the formal or informal sector. He suggests involving Village Health Teams (VHTs) in this process, which would need to be ongoing due to changing poverty levels. Grace Kiwanuka, the Executive Director of the Uganda Healthcare Federation (UHF), welcomes the government’s proposal to require contributions from everyone, regardless of financial capacity. She believes this approach will help safeguard the integrity of the fund.
Kiwanuka explains that people are already paying for healthcare in various ways, and a fully government-funded healthcare system is not feasible due to the limitations of the tax base. However, in the new proposals, formally employed individuals who already have private health insurance will continue with their existing plans but will still be obligated to contribute to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).