Kenyan health system to use biometric smartcards


Officials from Kenya's National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) have confirmed it will use fingerprints and smartcards to identify its more than six million members in the battle against fraudsters.

Chief executive Geoffrey Mwangi said the fund would start biometric registration to capture details of NHIF members and their dependants, including fingerprints, names and pictures.

The scheme has seen people using fake identities to seek medical care and hospitals processing false claims.

“This is something we had started piloting with the civil servants and it worked very well and next week will start collecting biometric data for all members. Everything is ready,” he said.

In 2015, the NHIF started the biometric registration of civil servants and security officers as the first step to migrate its members to the use of smart cards to identify themselves in hospitals.

The cards use biometric features to identify a registered member when one’s thumb is placed on a reader.

The private sector insurers adopted the use of biometric identification, which has curbed fraud that in 2009 caused revenue losses estimated at 40 per cent of total claims.

“Fingerprints are not the same hence it will become very difficult to come across such incidents in future once the programme is fully rolled out,” said Mr Mwangi.

He added that the smartcard will also solve the problem of members who are denied services after they lose their IDs.

“This is also a big problem in the Linda Mama Programme most mothers do not have their identification cards, making it very difficult to attend to them but with the electronic card, once they scan their fingerprints, it will automatically show whether they are registered or not,” he said.

The CEO said some people used false identity to get free healthcare and defraud the fund.

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