Schools in dilemma after NHIF directive to hospitals
Secondary school principals have protested a move by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to write directly to individual health facilities stationed in schools ordering them to withdraw their staff and services because of failure to be accredited by the insurer.
The school heads accused NHIF of overlooking the Ministry of Education to give directives on the EduAfya medical scheme.
They have further faulted the insurer for acting without consulting and involving the school administrations.
Kenya Secondary School’s Heads Association (Kessha) Chairman Kahi Indimuli said the directive from the fund has instilled fear among the health services provider as they are afraid they will not be paid for treating students.
Mr Indimuli said schools are in a dilemma over where to take their students for treatment when they fall sick if the affected hospitals withdraw their services.
“The directives have brought shock and confusion in schools. We are left to wonder how our students will be treated if these health facilities withdraw their staff and services,” said Mr Indimuli.
The school heads want all communication regarding the EduAfya medical scheme to be done through the Ministry of Education and not from NHIF regional offices.
NHIF regional offices from across the country have written directly to the hospitals offering services to students warning them against operating without accreditation.
“The medical scheme is an education programme, we are asking NHIF to direct any concerns they have to the Ministry of Education and not to the hospitals,” said Mr Indimuli.
Due to the urgency in student’s treatment, Mr Indimuli said schools agreed with health facilities to open up dispensaries inside the institutions.
The schools forwarded the names of the health providers to the Ministry of Education for accreditation.
Mr Indimuli said the insurer must be clear in its engagement with schools.
“The insurer’s regional directors cannot write directly to hospitals [operating in schools] without informing the school heads,” he said.
Principals said that by Thursday, they had not received any counter communication or instructions from the Ministry of Education on the medical programme.
If the current health providers withdraw, Mr Indimuli said schools will be left in a crisis as major hospitals are located far from some of the learning institutions.
Kessha wants the Ministry of Education and NHIF to involve them in any decision they make regarding the students’ medical scheme.
NHIF has written to the health facilities informing them that it will not pay for services offered to students by the uncredited hospitals stationed in schools.
“It has been noted with great concern that some facilities are generating EduAfya claims from non-accredited facilities especially from school clinics or sanatoriums,” read one of the letters.
But Mr Indimuli said that following the June circular from the Education ministry, schools submitted the list of health facilities they had engaged.
“It is the Ministry of Education’s role to communicate to schools if the agreement has changed,” said Mr Indimuli.
Officials from the Ministry of Education and those from NHIF are said to have met Thursday to discuss the way forward.
Mr Indimuli said the school heads were not invited to the meeting.
Several principals who spoke to the Nation said that currently, some of the hospitals are not treating students for fear of not being paid.
Some health centres are also contemplating withdrawing their services after receiving the letters.
“We are waiting to hear the ministry’s position on these new NHIF directive to hospitals,” said a principal from a school in Kisumu.
The hospitals identify the students using data captured in the National Education Management Information System and forward the details to NHIF for.