How to Enroll in the Public Healthcare System in Kenya

A primer on how to enroll in the public healthcare system in Kenya.
How to Enroll in the Public Healthcare System in Kenya

If you’re planning to enroll in the public healthcare system in Kenya, this article covers the requirements for foreigners to be able enroll in the public healthcare system, the steps involved and more.

Kenya’s public healthcare system is primarily managed by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). The NHIF is a state corporation that provides health insurance to Kenyans, with the aim of ensuring access to affordable and quality healthcare services. The quality of public healthcare in Kenya varies, with some facilities offering excellent services while others may be lacking in resources and personnel. The cost of healthcare is generally affordable, especially for those enrolled in the NHIF. It is not mandatory for all residents to enroll in the NHIF, but it is highly recommended due to the financial protection it offers against high medical costs. A significant number of Kenyans use the NHIF, but there are also those who rely on private health insurance or out-of-pocket payments.

Eligibility for Foreigners

Foreigners living in Kenya are eligible to enroll in the NHIF. However, they must have a valid work permit or be legally residing in the country. The NHIF does not discriminate based on nationality, and as long as one meets the eligibility criteria, they can access the public healthcare system.

Steps to Enroll in the NHIF

  1. Visit the NHIF website or any of their branches countrywide.
  2. Fill out the registration form. This will require personal details such as your full name, date of birth, nationality, and contact information. You will also need to provide details of your employment and income.
  3. Submit the completed form along with the required documents. These include a copy of your passport, work permit, and two passport-sized photos.
  4. Pay the required registration fee. The amount will depend on your income, with those earning more expected to pay a higher fee.
  5. Once your application is processed and approved, you will receive an NHIF card. This card will be used to access healthcare services at NHIF accredited facilities.

It’s important to note that the NHIF only covers part of the medical costs, and the patient may be required to pay the balance. The amount covered by the NHIF depends on the type of treatment and the healthcare facility.

Alternative Healthcare Options

While the NHIF provides a safety net for healthcare costs, some foreigners may opt for private health insurance. This is especially the case for those who prefer private healthcare facilities, which often offer a higher standard of care but at a higher cost. Private health insurance can be obtained from various providers in Kenya, and the cost will depend on the coverage level and the individual’s health status.

It’s also worth noting that some international health insurance plans cover treatment in Kenya. Therefore, it’s advisable for foreigners moving to Kenya to check with their current health insurance provider to see if their coverage extends to Kenya.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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