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Maternity fees in private hospitals skyrocket

Private hospitals have nearly doubled maternity charges in the past eight years in a move that has effectively countered government efforts to improve the safety of mothers and new-borns with the removal of barriers to primary healthcare such as user fees.

Charges for both normal and Caesarean-section (C-section) deliveries rose by 90 per cent in major hospitals such as Nairobi Hospital, Karen Hospital and Nairobi Women’s Hospital, turning them into exclusive facilities for the deep-pocketed.

Health secretary Cleopa Mailu, who was until recently the chief executive at Nairobi Hospital, reckons that the fee increases are related to the provision of premium services that are not available in public hospitals.

“My experience is that investors are now leaning towards creating a hotel-like level of comfort for patients that take in heavy investment and maintenance costs,” Dr Mailu said.

The fees have nearly doubled in hospitals like MP Shah where normal delivery currently costs Sh130,000 compared to Sh70,000 in 2008. The hospital now charges Sh260,000 for a C-section delivery up from Sh135,000 in 2008.

Nairobi Hospital’s charges are up from Sh55,000 to Sh98,000 for a normal delivery while a C-section currently costs Sh220,000, up from Sh155,000 eight years ago.

In that period, Nairobi Women’s Hospital increased its normal delivery charges from Sh45,000 to Sh64,000 while a C-section now costs Sh145,000 from Sh99,000.

FEES INFLATION

Among the facilities sampled, Avenue Hospital has the lowest charges of Sh24,000 for normal delivery and Sh65,000 for a C-section.

State-owned Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) private wing has not spared its patients the user fees inflation and is currently charging Sh53,000 for normal delivery and Sh152,000 for C-section.

The full impact of this user fee inflation is that households must dig deeper to finance childbirth even as they continue to pay more in taxes and for other goods and services.

The extent of this user fee inflation is underlined by the fact that most rates now stand above the average insurance cover limits, forcing patients to top up in cash for the excess charges.

Besides, there is little help from the National Hospital insurance Fund (NHIF), which has capped its normal delivery provision at Sh10,000 and Sh30,000 for C-section.

On average, the block charges cover three days of hospital stay for normal deliveries and five days for C-section. Any extra days spent in hospital thereafter must be paid for separately.

Insurance companies, which foot much of the healthcare costs, described the fee increases as exorbitant pointing to their fixing above the annual inflation rates.

Source: Business Daily