NHIF to allow polygamous men to cover multiple wives for Sh500 if parliament approves the proposed law.
If Parliament passes the proposed law, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) will allow males to obtain medical coverage for multiple spouses, departing from medical insurance norms.
The rules include a provision that covers medical expenses for polygamous families as long as the male member pays an additional Sh500 for each additional wife.
This differs from the present NHIF regulations, which only apply to one spouse and a maximum of five children.
For medical coverage, the majority of private insurance companies, particularly those supported by employers, recognize the principle member, one registered spouse, and up to four children.
It is frequently required of members who have two wives to have a second cover for the second wife who is designated as the principal member.
The NHIF’s move to recognize multiple wives comes more than eight years after former President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law a marriage Bill legalizing polygamy.
It aligned civil law—where a man was only permitted to have one wife—with customary law, permitting males to marry additional women without first consulting their current spouses.
“Where a standard contributor includes more than one spouse as a beneficiary, the contributor shall remit an additional contribution to the Fund,” says a new clause in the republished regulations.
“The rate of the additional contribution referred to in the sub-regulation shall be five hundred shillings in respect of each spouse.”
Prior to receiving parliamentary approval for the new rates and the provision supporting members with multiple wives, the NHIF is seeking community feedback on the proposed regulations.
According to information from the Kenya Population and Housing Census, about 1.5 million Kenyans, or 10% of the married population, are involved in polygamous unions.
However, women’s rights organizations assert that this is a vast underestimation because the majority of these unions are informal and unrecorded.
Many ladies don’t even know they share a husband since he could keep them in different houses without telling them.
Despite growing modernity and awareness of women’s rights, polygamy remains legal in most African nations and is prevalent across society, from farmers to senior politicians and top executives. In Kenya, church leaders have opposed the clause in the marriage law approving polygamy, insisting it undermines Christian principles of marriage and family.
The NHIF is seeking from the revived law to have workers earning more than Sh100,000 per month pay more in monthly contributions, signaling a heavier financial strain on staff and employers.
The fund in republishing regulations, which were rejected by Parliament before the August 8 General Election, wants workers earning more than Sh100,000 to pay 1.7 percent of their gross salary to the scheme.
The new premium is a shift from the present model where employees earning over Sh100,000 pay a fixed monthly contribution of Sh1,700 to the NHIF.
Contributions of workers earning Sh200,000 will double to Sh3,400 if the regulations are adopted while the burden on those on Sh500,000 will increase five times to Sh8,500 monthly.
The renewed push for the high rates comes weeks after President Ruto backed the proposal to have the rich pay higher monthly premiums to the NHIF.