The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Uganda is set to reintroduce a draft bill for the National Health Insurance Scheme, which will make it mandatory for all adult Ugandans to make contributions. Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng announced this development during the Annual Joint Health Sector Review Conference, highlighting that this initiative aligns with Uganda’s commitments at the United Nations Health Assembly. After multiple previous attempts dating back to 2004, this renewed effort signifies a significant step towards establishing the National Health Insurance Scheme.
A Shift in Employer Contributions
Initially, the Ministry of Health had proposed that employers should make contributions to the scheme on behalf of their employees. However, this approach has been reconsidered due to concerns of overburdening employers. Many corporate companies in Uganda have already been purchasing private health insurance for their staff. It has become evident that employers are reluctant to participate in the broader national scheme.
In response to this shift, the Ministry of Health has decided to segment contributions based on income groups, with some contributors making annual payments and others contributing on a monthly basis. This move aims to strike a balance between providing comprehensive coverage and reducing the financial burden on employers.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng disclosed that each family head is expected to contribute fifteen thousand Ugandan shillings for each household member. Additionally, all individuals aged eighteen and above will be required to make contributions, regardless of their employment status. This revised approach seeks to ensure that healthcare coverage is accessible to as many Ugandans as possible.
Expert Input on Contribution Affordability
Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of AMREF Health Africa, an organization actively engaged in discussions about achieving universal health coverage, emphasized the need for mapping to identify individuals capable of making contributions, irrespective of their employment in the formal or informal sector. He proposed the involvement of village health teams in this process, highlighting the importance of continuous assessment due to changing poverty levels.