Government To Launch SHIF in March, Following Court Greenlight

January 25, 2024

Health Cabinet Secretary Wafula Nakhumicha has confirmed that the Kenyan government is on track to introduce the new Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) by March this year.

This announcement came during a Wednesday night town hall interview on Citizen TV.

The SHIF is set to replace the long-standing National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), marking a significant change in the country’s health insurance landscape.

Initially set to be launched in January, the SHIF faced legal hurdles, but the Court of Appeal last week gave the greenlight for its implementation.

The Health Cabinet Secretary revealed that the Ministry is finalizing the Act’s regulations, a necessary step before the formal process of registering individuals for SHIF can begin.

The plan is to commence registration and contributions concurrently in March.

Nakhumicha stated, Our projection as the ministry is that by March 1, 2023, we should be able to start registration of everybody into the Social Health Authority. If we finish earlier, we will start early. Contribution will be the same month.

Public Participation and Legislative Process for the SHIF

  • *  Public Participation: Scheduled to start in February, this stage involves a mandatory 14-day period for public feedback.
  • *  Legislative Process: Following public participation, the process moves to parliament for legislation.
  • *  Final Review: The Act will then be reviewed by the Attorney General before being gazetted into law.

Nakhumicha revealed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is backing the initiative, emphasizing that a Means Testing system has been established to determine individual income levels within families.

We have done the means testing for everyone. We have received support from the WHO to develop the Means Testing criteria. Once the house has already been subjected to means testing, we already know the level of income so it doesn’t mean that we are starting from scratch, she explained how the informal sector is going to be onboarded.

While collecting deductions from the formal sector has never been a problem, the biggest challenge has always been the informal sector, who make up an estimated 80% of the workforce. It remains to be seen how effective the ‘mean testing’ system will work.

The transition to SHIF follows a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Last Friday, a three-judge bench lifted the High Court’s suspension of the Social Health Insurance Act’s implementation.

The judges, Patrick Kiage, Pauline Nyamweya, and Grace Ngenye, expressed concerns about the impact of the suspension on citizens’ health rights.

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