The Ugandan government has announced that contributions to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NIHS) will be made mandatory for all Ugandans regardless of their employment status.
According to Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, this decision aims to maintain the quality of healthcare services and promote responsible utilization of the scheme.
Dr. Aceng explained that people tend to value and take responsibility for services they contribute to financially. Therefore, making contributions mandatory will encourage citizens to hold each other accountable for their use of the healthcare services provided under the scheme.
She acknowledged that there might be debates when the National Health Insurance Bill is presented in Parliament, but the government’s stance is that everyone must make contributions.
This announcement was made during the launch of the Uganda Demographic Health Service report in 2022 at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. Previously, the government had considered linking contributions to the working class, but this approach was deemed unfeasible due to challenges in defining income levels and identifying exemptions.
Dr. Aceng revealed that the contribution amount would be determined based on the number of dependents a person has.
Currently, only about 5 percent of Ugandans are covered by health insurance, primarily through corporate arrangements made by employers, leaving the majority of the population to cover healthcare costs out of pocket.
This often involves using personal savings, selling assets, or taking out loans, which can lead to financial hardship.
Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) advocates for universal health coverage, which aims to ensure that all individuals can access the healthcare services they need without facing financial burdens due to out-of-pocket expenses.
The government’s decision to make contributions to the National Health Insurance Scheme mandatory aligns with this goal, as it seeks to expand access to healthcare services for all Ugandans.