Is Universal HealthCare Possible?
Over a year ago I was admitted to hospital due to an asthma attack and like most people who don’t have medical insurance, I was in the waiting area receiving nebulization while funds were being organized to pay the deposit and admit me. I am lucky I have a family of doctors and it didn’t take long for the process and soon I was breathing easy.
But just imagine, you have to admit your loved one and there is no money. I did sign up for medical insurance eventually and went through a rigorous checklist of which one served me the best. But not everyone has the luxury to vet the best option and negotiate or really see which package will work for them and let’s face it is still expensive in most cases. Going back to the doctors and medical practitioners and their commitment to serving a patient, if someone is poor and needs urgent medical assistance, what happens then?
If you don’t have a doctor in your family or as a friend, then there is nearly nobody who can convince or influence the hospital to take you in and fix you on credit. Majority of Kenyans on low income end up at the Kenyatta National Hospital or Pumwani Hospital especially for maternity cases. Earlier this month the NHIF CEO Simeon Ole Kirgotty introduced their outpatient cover, which includes doctor consultations, lab tests, medicines, x-rays and a few other facilities. This has been possible due to the increased rates of NHIF contributions and maybe this will be the best way forward, removing reliance on big medical insurance covers. According to Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia there are about 5 million registered in the NHIF. However unemployed have not been catered for and they are facing the brunt of almost no medical care in an emergency.
Then it comes down to Hospital and Medical facilities policies. And more than likely privately owned are rarely generous and profit margins matter more. Perhaps a contingency fund can cater for such emergencies per month and they can do a trial and see how best to fund it, seek solutions because medical care to anyone in need cannot be weighed by the heaviness of their pocket. Every human deserves a chance at getting better. Doctors too in the public facilities are looking for better pay and why not deservedly so. They have a court hearing on 29th July, where they are looking to have the Ministry of Health register their Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will give them a 300% increase in their salaries and allowances.
It gets down to the basics, if the doctor is happy, he or she will be more than happy to treat their patient almost for free. There are so many doctors within the community that do put in their quota of charity and they deserve the applause, but if a better and long lasting solution can be obtained for affordable care or free care for emergency cases with poor patients, then we are changing the world. If poor people can’t get jobs and fall under the NHIF benefits scheme then the Government needs to come up with a fallback plan. We also can’t have lazy citizens taking advantage, because also it is a known fact those employees who are receiving company medical insurance sometimes lounge at hospital waiting rooms to just get a day off or fake illnesses. This is another vice that needs to be considered; unfortunately even man is his own enemy.
Medical care is important and human rights need to be respected.