By Christine Mwelu
Medical bills are one of the most significant financial burdens facing Kenyans in this modern era. This is partly due to the nature of the health care system in Kenya. Every year, thousands of Kenyans are pushed below the national poverty line due to direct medical bills. This has led to a more significant concern that most Kenyans are only an illness away from poverty.
Only a small percentage of Kenyans have medical insurance, the massive awareness and consumer education by NHIF notwithstanding.
To get a clear understanding of how best one can manage their health care costs, I share my thoughts as follows ;
1.Understanding that the medical insurance card is not a credit card
Some if not most medical insurance card holders misuse their cards by viewing it as more of a credit card. There are simple ailments that in one way or another, only need over the counter drugs, or home therapy, but one would shun that idea as ineffective and go to the hospital and end up paying a higher fee than what you could have paid over the counter. Such dependencies are contributing factors inflating insurance premiums.
2.Seeking the second opinion
In the event that one is diagnosed with a particular ailment, it is imperative to get a second opinion from different doctors before eventually beginning your treatment program. This allows one to affirm the first doctor’s opinion and reduces instances of misdiagnosis.
- Make good use of the NHIF enhanced benefit
In the recent past the basic NHIF benefits were enhanced to cater for surgical cases, CT Scans, MRI, dialysis and chemotherapy treatment. The attending doctor fill a form and shares to NHIF offices for approval. This packages are greatly reducing costs since it is cost shared with your Insurance Company and curbs early depletion of limit.
- Good choice of a health facility
Most of Kenyan medical facilities are in business and are out to make good money from your insurance cover. They escalate costs to be settled via Insurance compared to cash payers.
The costs varies from one facility to another depending on hospital tiers but the attending Doctors are same who rotate. Do not choose a facility due to the name, choose what you can afford even without insurance.
5.Consider using generic drugs
Most people perceive these drugs as inferior to the original brand named versions. They are created to be the same as already existing brand of medicine form of dosage, safety, strength, administration route, quality, performance characteristics and intention of use. They work just the same as existing brands but with cheaper price tags. Use of generic drugs is something we should consider as a country in a bid to lower healthcare costs and costs of medication.
Some of the chronic diseases in the modern day are as a result of poor lifestyle habits. Leading a healthy lifestyle can prevent one from regular health facility visits that come as a result of. Many people are always oblivious of how staying physically active or even watching their diet could do to their health.
Christine is a Medical Manager, Kenindia Assurance.