Families will contribute Shillings 15,000 to the insurance pool for each member of their household should the cabinet approve the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme bill,” revealed the Health Minister, Dr. Ruth Aceng.
She also highlighted the history of failed attempts by the Health Ministry to establish the national health insurance scheme since 2004.
In the new proposals, Aceng emphasized the need to make it mandatory for everyone to join the scheme. She stated, “We have done our research and found that Ugandans don’t appreciate what they don’t pay for.”
Furthermore, Aceng explained that the contribution amount would vary based on the number of dependants in a household. She remarked, “And I am pleased to announce that the more dependants one has, the more money they will be required to contribute to the pool.”
However, not everyone is in agreement with the idea of universal contributions. Dr. Githinji Gitahi, the CEO of AMREF Health Africa, suggested an alternative approach.
He recommended that the government conduct mapping to determine individuals’ ability to afford contributions, regardless of their employment status in the informal or formal sector.
He proposed using Village Health Teams (VHTs) for this assessment, emphasizing the importance of continuous monitoring due to changing poverty levels.
On the other hand, Grace Kiwanuka, the Executive Director of the Uganda Healthcare Federation (UHF), welcomed the government’s proposal to have everyone pay regardless of financial capacity.
She stated, “Where people don’t contribute, experience globally shows that all beneficiaries need to contribute to appreciate the scheme and not to abuse it. To ensure the risk pool is managed, they consume responsibly because their money is in there as well.”
Kiwanuka argued that people already pay for their healthcare in some way and that health cannot be entirely funded by the government due to limitations in the tax base.
However, she clarified that formally employed individuals covered by private health insurance would continue with their existing plans but would still be mandated to contribute to the NHIS under the new proposals.