News 

Sunday, December 01, 2013 

Uganda health insurance in 2014

KAMPALA, Uganda – A taskforce working on the deferred National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Bill has concluded its work and the paperwork is going to Cabinet in the near future.Dr Francis Runumi, the Commissioner for Health Services, said if all goes well the scheme will be operational in the year 2014.“Parliament and Cabinet have been so supportive. The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has been demanding for the Bill to be passed. Even in Cabinet, Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, ( the Minister of Health) is demanding for it,” Runumi told East African Business Week.
He added: “We are waiting for a few things at finance ministry to get out of the way.  For sure once we have the law then we can get through the modalities and we launch it next year,” he said.
Under the proposed National Health Insurance Bill, 2007, employees especially those in the formal sector (both public and private) are to pay four percent of their monthly earnings to the insurance scheme.
Additionally, their employers would also contribute another four percent while those in the informal sector or those with no job will be mobilized under saving schemes where the same percentage would be deducted for the insurance.
However private insurance companies are still uncomfortable with the Bill because it works against them.  
Caroline Namugala, Underwriting Officer, in the  medical department at Insurance Company of East Africa (ICEA) said the scheme leaves insurers in an unfavorable position. “The proposed premiums are too low. The current bill excludes Private Commercial Health Insurers. It does not favour us. It reduces our profitability and return on investments margin,” Namugala said.
However Dr. Runumi said revisions have been made to capture some of the disputed parts of the Bill and are addressed accordingly.
On the issue of costing of the premiums, he said, private firms are free to come up with premium prices that they think are competitive.
He said it’s a matter of collaborating because private firms have been catered for in the new proposed scheme which should be on the market next year.
Dr. Runumi said employers especially in the private sector who were fighting the scheme have come to understand the benefits.He said with only a contribution of four percent, employers stand a big chance to benefit from their workforce when put under the scheme.
“We told them it would improve their costs. Employers will be able to have a health workforce with no absenteeism due to sickness and things like that,”
He said a study they have carried out revealed that in instances where employees pay out of their pockets to foot medical bills, company loss amounted to 22% yet when the scheme is used companies can save up to 14%.

By Baz Waiswa, Sunday, December 01st, 2013