By Moses Walubiri
THE proposed National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) will not cover beyond four dependents of its contributors.
During a consultative workshop on the proposed design of the insurance at the Grand Imperial Hotel recently, the commissioner of health services, Dr. Francis Runumi, said only the contributor and four immediate dependents will be entitled to the insurance benefits.
Runumi explained that the scheme cannot afford to provide health care to an unlimited number of dependents without increasing the premium of its contributors.
The Government set up a task force to design a universal health insurance scheme aimed at ensuring that every citizen had equitable access to quality health care.
However, this scheme will come at a price for those in formal employment, as they will have to part with 8% of their monthly gross salaries besides Pay as You Earn and National Social Security Fund.
But just like NSSF, employers will help their employees shoulder the burden with a 4% contribution towards the scheme.
World Health Organisation’s Dr. Juliet Nabyonga said the scheme will ensure that no Ugandan dies because of failure to afford medical care.
“This scheme is cognizant of the fact that anyone of us can find themselves unable to afford medical care, especially in retirement. Health insurance is the most reliable safeguard against such an eventuality,” Nabyonga said.
Runumi said the biggest challenge was bringing on board those in informal employment, the unemployed and the more than 15 million Ugandans living in chronic poverty.
Contributors will be given cards, which will enable them and their beneficiaries access quality medical care in all accredited hospitals.
Although it will be an independent corporate body, NHIS will closely work with NSSF to implement the scheme.
Runumi said the scheme will be synchronized with other insurance schemes in the East African Community to enable clients access medical services in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda.
This, he said, would facilitate the free movement of labour in the regional bloc without the fear of contributors losing their benefits.
NHIS will not phase out other private health insurance schemes currently operational in the country, and will not cover costly complicated medical operations abroad.
In the East African region, Rwanda has 98% medical insurance coverage, Burundi 34%, Tanzania 15%, and Kenya 35%.
The NHIS Bill will be tabled before parliament this year, and the scheme is expected to be rolled out before 2013.
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