Is Your Card Still Valid? NHIF Assures Services Amidst “Rumors”

In a bid to quell growing panic among its members, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has denied claims circulating on social media alleging that members’ cards are being blocked from accessing health services and referrals at private hospitals registered with the scheme.

The move comes on the heels of a tense week marked by price wrangles between NHIF and private hospitals, with the latter threatening to halt services to NHIF members if the issue remained unresolved.

The Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA) protested new prices set by NHIF, which they said were significantly lower and unsustainable, jeopardizing their business viability.

The new prices were scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2024. But following a January 4th meeting with APHFTA, Christian Social Services Commission, BAKWATA and NHIF, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu intervened to de-escalate the situation.

The prices were suspended until a review committee led by Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) Commissioner Dr. Baghayo Saqware, comes up with a resolution.

The price battle has triggered public fears, fueled by social media influencers who have featured voices of patients claiming that private hospitals are indeed denying health services to NHIF card holders.  

“These allegations are entirely false and malicious, aimed solely at causing unnecessary anxiety among our members,” said Grace Michael, NHIF’s Acting Public Relations Manager, in a public statement issued today.

The statement further clarified that, should any member encounter difficulties accessing services at any facility, they should immediately report the matter through the nearest NHIF office or by calling the dedicated hotline 199.

Medical services for NHIF members continue as usual through over 9,000 registered facilities, including private, faith-based, and government health facilities across the country

Grace Michael-NHIF Acting Public Relations Manager

Tension remains palpable

There is ongoing demand from private health stakeholders wanting the Act that established NHIF to be reviewed, leading to the creation of an independent regulator to assess the market and determine realistic service prices for both NHIF and healthcare providers.

Also Read: Why NHIF Is Trapped In Endless Price Wrangles With Private Hospitals

Currently, NHIF operates in a dual role, acting as both a consumer of services and the sole authority setting their prices. This situation, private stakeholders argue, creates an inherent conflict of interest and hinders transparent pricing mechanisms.

The President of Tanzania last month signed the Universal Health Insurance Bill into a law. Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu has, until recently, hinted that the government is working on regulations that will underpin the implementation of the law.   

It remains to be seen how the Government will implement the law with unregulated pricing and a society faced with financial hurdles.  

MEDICOPRESS is a Non-Governmental Organization that promotes Medical Journalism, Professional Development and Public Health Education. It’s a network of medical scientists and journalists who believe in the dissemination of accurate medical/ health inform information in the process of imparting positive changes in the community.


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