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Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Kenya

The Kenyan health system is funded largely through out of pocket payments, which account for about 36% of Total Health Expenditure (THE) (WHO, 2009).
NHIF (Kenyan government’s health insurance scheme)
New product development, Strategy and policy design, Research insights
Public health
Project Team
Sarah Hassanen's profile'
Sarah Forrester's profile'
Richard Amwayi's profile'

To address these challenges, the Government of Kenya has made a commitment to reform the country’s health financing system to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage. As a vehicle for achieving UHC, the NHIF will be required to scale up social health insurance coverage in Kenya to 100% by 2030.

With funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and in collaboration with the Kenyan government’s health insurance scheme (NHIF), ThinkPlace Kenya carried out a qualitative study to gain a deeper understanding of the informal sector’s perceptions of and experiences with NHIF’s services. This approach identified gaps and opportunities for product, service and business process improvements to increase membership take-up and retention of NHIF membership. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and guided storytelling with current NHIF informal sector members, former NHIF informal sector members, and potential NHIF informal sector members.

Through a synthesis process, the research data was distilled into 12 key insights into the informal sectors perception and experiences of the NHIF. Also, a set of user personas were developed that allowed for participants in the innovation workshops to understand and build empathy with different user groups within the informal sector.

ThinkPlace extended the research findings to enable the co-design of 15 concepts and 5 key strategic recommendations which can be taken forward in the short to medium term by NHIF in supporting the organisation towards achieving universal health coverage among all Kenyans.


Each year, about 1.5 million Kenyans are pushed into poverty due to health care costs (Chuma & Maina, 2012).