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Health insurance in Kenya

Updated on June 18, 2013

Health insurance in Kenya

Over the last 20 years, the private health sector in Kenya has grown significantly. Any meaningful strategy to improve health outcomes in Kenya must look beyond the public sector and consider the potential of the not-for-profit and the for-profit (commercial) health sector. The current Government of Kenya (GOK) understands this, and the private sector is very much a part of their Vision 2030 plan for growth in all areas, including health. The government’s development partners – both bilateral and multilateral – are also becoming aware of how large a role commercial health providers play in the health system. According to World Health Organization (WHO), Kenya’s private sector is one of the most developed and dynamic in Sub-Saharan Africa (WHO, 2004). In the health sector – the private commercial (for-profit) sector and the not-for-profit sector play critical roles in improving the health care. Even among the poor, the private sector is an important source of care. For example, 47 percent of the poorest quintile of Kenyans use a private facility when a child is sick (Marek et al., 2005)

In addition to the traditional hospitals and clinics, there are also a number of hybrid enterprises operating in both health care provision and insurance. Compared to the NHIF, the private insurance sector is quite small and comprise of approximately 600,000 members in total. These members are for the most part individuals receiving insurance through employee insurance plans. The private sector insurance coverage out of the insured population is highest in Nairobi with 25 percent, i.e. 150,000, and lowest in the North Eastern province with only 4 percent (


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