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Kenya to Impose Local Health Insurance Requirement for Foreign Visitors

Visitors to Kenya will be required to purchase local health insurance, regardless of the length of their stay.

According to local media, the insurance industry is expected to benefit from this new requirement, as over 1.5 million foreigners visit the country annually, VisaGuide.World reports.

Parliament’s National Assembly Health Committee is discussing making an amendment to the Social Health Insurance Bill in 2023, with this Bill potentially benefiting the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) as well as private insurance service providers.

Moreover, the move is expected to highlight the NHIF’s financial state in exploring the introduction of universal health coverage (UHC) as proposed by President William Ruto.

This proposal secures safeguards for tourists against emergencies, such as pandemics, while the Bill’s initial phase suggests mandatory membership for foreigners residing in the country for more than one year.

Kenya can follow the example of Schengen countries, which require travelers to purchase travel health insurance in order to enter any EU and Schengen country, indicating that visitors to Kenya can be barred from entering the country if they fail to abide by the requirements, same as the law currently effective in countries like France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Croatia and Denmark.

Around 1.48 million people visited Kenya last year, with the majority of those visiting for tourism purposes. The new insurance program will also provide treatment of continual illness, not only fund medical treatment for visitors.

The Health Committee in Parliament has given the green light to four health Bills, including the Social Health Insurance Bill, 2023, which could become law after approval from President William Ruto. The remaining Bills are the Digital Health Bill of 2023, the Facility Improvement Financing Bill of 2023, and the Primary Healthcare Bill of 2023. These legislative proposals aim to boost healthcare services around the country.

New social health insurance bills are expected to be approved and passed by the Kenyan Parliament this week. Moreover, to protect residents against the financial problems that damaged the NHIF, they will be required to contribute to the Fund, including the foreign residents.

Those who refuse to present proof of payment can lose their right to government services. Despite increased collections from members, the NHIF has struggled to reimburse hospitals due to an influx of claims and ongoing fraud that causes it to lose billions of shillings annually.

Some of the most memorable places that tourists to Kenya should check out include Masai Mara, Fort Jesus, Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru, Watamu as well as Laikipia.

Source : Visa Guide