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BackgroundNon-communicable diseases (NCDs) can impose a substantial financial burden to households in the absence of an effective financial risk protection mechanism. The national health insurance fund (NHIF) has included NCD services in its national scheme. We evaluated the effectiveness of NHIF in providing financial risk protection to households with persons living with hypertension and/or diabetes in Kenya.MethodsWe carried out a prospective cohort study, following 888 households with at least one individual living with hypertension and/or diabetes for 12 months. The exposure arm comprised households that are enrolled in the NHIF national scheme, while the control arm comprised households that were not enrolled in the NHIF. Study participants were drawn from two counties in Kenya. We used the incidence of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) as the outcome of interest. We used coarsened exact matching and a conditional logistic regression model to analyse the odds of CHE among households enrolled in the NHIF compared with unenrolled households. Socioeconomic inequality in CHE was examined using concentration curves and indices.ResultsWe found strong evidence that NHIF-enrolled households spent a lower share (12.4%) of their household budget on healthcare compared with unenrolled households (23.2%) (p = 0.004). While households that were enrolled in NHIF were less likely to incur CHE, we did not find strong evidence that they are better protected from CHE compared with households without NHIF (OR = 0.67; p = 0.47). The concentration index (CI) for CHE showed a pro-poor distribution (CI: -0.190, p ConclusionWe did not find strong evidence that the NHIF national scheme is effective in providing financial risk protection to households with individuals living with hypertension and/diabetes in Kenya. This could partly be explained by the low depth of cover of the NHIF national scheme, and the high attrition rate. To enhance NHIF effectiveness, there is a need to revise the NHIF benefit package to include essential hypertension and/diabetes services, review existing provider payment mechanisms to explicitly reimburse these services, and extend the existing insurance subsidy programme to include individuals in the informal labour market.

Original publication





International journal for equity in health

Publication Date





Health Economics Research Unit, KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, P.O.BOX 43640-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.


Humans, Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Catastrophic Illness, Prospective Studies, Health Expenditures, Financial Management, Insurance, Health, National Health Programs, Kenya