Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Cabinet has approved the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill. The decision was reached at a Uganda Government Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe on Monday 24th, 2019.
According to Sarah Byakika, the Commissioner Planning, Financing and Policy in the Health Ministry, the scheme is meant to improve the provision and access of Health services to all Ugandans.
“The bill is also intended to facilitate the provision of accessible, affordable acceptable and quality healthcare services to citizens irrespective of their age, economic, health and social status. It is also to develop health insurance as a complementary mechanism of healthcare financing and ensure efficiency in healthcare services,” she said.
Byakika said the scheme will ensure that residents have access to equitable, affordable and quality healthcare services.
Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo says if passed into law, the bill shall make it mandatory for every Ugandan above 18 years to pay for the National health insurance.
Similar to other Insurance schemes, it involves saving and depositing money with an insurance company such that when one is sick, they can receive health services without picking money from their pockets.The National Health Insurance Scheme will be implemented in an integrated approach through social and private community based health insurance schemes.
Government also hopes that through this scheme, it will be able to mobilize funds to subsidize the cost of provision of healthcare services to the population and the indigents in particular and be in position to promote social protection by protecting households from catastrophic health expenditures (impoverishing payments incurred when they access health services.
Byakika explains that currently, over 41% of expenditure on health services is out of pocket expenditure by households while 42% is spent by donors and government only contributes 15 % of the total expenditure.
She says the scheme is very important because a healthy life is not always guaranteed and people need to be prepared for when they fall sick such that they don’t hustle to find money for health care.
She explains that government plans to start with small packages as it expands. The small packages she said shall include insurance cover for Malaria, hypertension among others.
According to the bill, each individual above the age of 18 years shall be required to remit a certain amount of money to the National Health insurance scheme and acquire an insurance card. Once it is approved, civil servants and formally employed Ugandans will be required to contribute 4 per cent of their gross salary.
The employers will top up with 4 per cent to make 8 percent as the monthly contributions towards the scheme. No specific amount has been set but Byakika says it shall depend on one’s earnings. A card can be used by the individual remitting the money, their spouses and children. If both spouses are employed, both shall be required to remit to the scheme, according to Byakika. She adds that the scheme shall be implemented on the principles of solidarity in that those exempted from the payment also benefit.
Byakika explains that vulnerable people and indigents shall be exempted from the insurance cover but still benefit. Among the vulnerable people are poor orphans, people with disability, street children, individuals above 18 years of age but still studying and unemployed among others.
According to Byakika, government plans to engage private companies in the insurance sector to provide the services and accredit health facilities in the private sector to extend services to the population under this scheme.
After cabinet has decided, the bill shall be discussed by parliament. If passed, regulations will be enacted to put the enacted law into force.