MANAGING HEALTH CARE COSTS

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By and   large, medical bills have contributed to the financial woes that are facing many households in Kenya today. This is partly due to the nature of the health care system in the country. Every year, thousands of Kenyans are forced to live below the poverty line after settling hefty medical bills. This has led to the widely held view that most Kenyans are only an illness away from poverty.

Only a small percentage of Kenyans have medical insurance, the massive awareness and consumer education by NHIF notwithstanding.

To get a clear understanding of how individuals can manage their health care costs in a sustainable way, BL Digital had an opportunity to interview Mrs. Christine Mwelu, medical manager, Kenindia Assurance, who gave her opinion as follows:

   Your medical insurance card is not a credit card

Some (if not most) of the medical insurance card holders view   them as   credit cards. They therefore misuse them.  There are simple ailments that can be cured by taking over the counter drugs, yet some individuals unnecessarily visit hospitals when seeking treatment for the same. In the process, they pay a lot of money, inflating their insurance premiums.

       Seek a  second opinion

In the event that one is diagnosed with a particular ailment, it is imperative to get a second opinion from different doctors before eventually beginning the treatment programme. This allows one to counter check  the first doctor’s opinion , hence  reducing  instances of misdiagnosis.

Make good use of the NHIF enhanced benefit

In the recent past, the basic NHIF benefits have been enhanced to cater for surgical cases, CT scans, MRI, dialysis and chemotherapy treatment. The attending doctor fills a form and shares it with the NHIF offices for approval. These packages are greatly reducing the cost of medication.

Good choice of a health facility

Most of the local medical facilities are in business and are out to make good money from your insurance cover. They escalate costs to be settled via insurance compared to cash payers.

The costs vary from one facility to another, though the doctors are generally the same. It is therefore advisable for individuals to select a health facility wisely to avoid depleting the funds in their medical cards unnecessarily.

     Consider using generic drugs

Most people perceive these drugs as inferior to the original ones (brands). Nevertheless, they are similar to the original drugs in respect to dosage, safety, strength, administration route, quality, performance characteristics and intention of use, their lower cost notwithstanding. Use of generic drugs is something we should consider as a country in a bid to lower healthcare costs.

   Lifestyle change

Some of the chronic diseases in the modern day are as a result of poor lifestyle habits. Leading a healthy lifestyle can prevent one from falling ill frequently.

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