Minister stops NHIF fiat on patient shifts

04Aug 2022
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Minister stops NHIF fiat on patient shifts

HEALTH minister Ummy Mwalimu has prohibited the new procedure set out by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) that prevents patients to be treated at more than one hospital within a period of 30 days.

HEALTH minister Ummy Mwalimu.

The minister issued the prohibition order yesterday when unveiling the new board of the Jakaya Kikwete Heart Institute (JKCI) at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) compound in Dar es Salaam yesterday, in the wake of consultations after NHIF introduced the new procedure starting this month.

While affirming the good intentions of the new procedure, she said the fund acted alone, failing to abide by the procedural requirement of involving stakeholders before a proper decision was made.

Had this procedure been observed chances are that the fund would come up with an alternative strategy in stamping out frauds that occasion losses to the fund, the minister emphasized.

Fund managers sought for ways to control losses due to increased treatment costs, but they did not follow the right channels including getting views from the stakeholders, she specified.

 NHIF will thus have to take up the matter again by following the right channels, including referring the set out procedure to the ministry for review before any announcement on its being adopted is made, she said.

At the same time, the minister castigated the habit among a section of clients of NHIF shifting a patient from one hospital to another within a short time, as the cessation and restart of treatment adds to drug resistance for patients.

“That has been the practice for patients simply because they have health insurance. Today he is treated here and while still on the course of treatment, goes to another hospital to restart the treatment,” she said, identifying this habit as a big problem.

NHIF earlier announced a new procedure taking off August 1 for hospitals that send treatment bills to the fund that a hospital should not accept a patient who has been treated at another hospital before 30 days elapse.

That however does not include instances of referral to another hospital or in cases of emergency which will be deemed to be genuine, the notice had indicated.


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