Seeking services in health facilities approved by Aon-Minet for Teachers Service Commission (TSC) employed tutors is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Aon-Minet is the medical insurance provider for thousands of public school teachers and college tutors countrywide.
But many teachers have expressed frustrations with the insurer. They are querying the availability, ability and quality of services.
The silent protests by the teachers and their dependants has even caused friction between them and their unions. Knut and Kuppet have been blamed for not actively pushing the insurance provider to improve services. Indeed, there was renewed hope among teachers that Aon-Minet would allow easier access to services following a court case that sought to block the award of the tender to the insurer. However, the court challenge seems to have done little to make Aon-Minet responsive to the needs of its clients.
For example, early last November, Aon-Minet reminded members to update their own and dependants’ details. But accessing the list of approved service providers across the country is not possible. Dialling the short code *340# leads to an auto-generated message that the service is not available.
With the deadline having passed on December 31, members can’t access services until next month, when the changes will take effect, according to SMS messages sent to members by Minet Kenya. Many teachers and their dependants are scattered in far-flung places.
I was utterly disgusted, though not entirely shocked, to discover that one has to go through what appears to be network of people to get an alternative short code that gives a list of the health facilities approved by Aon-Minet.
Through this behind-the-scenes search and my own persistence, I also discovered that, in Kajiado, for instance, there are only three medical providers for out-patient services—one in Oloitokitok and two in Ongata Rongai. So, why approve three hospitals in an expansive county that borders Tanzania to the south, Taita-Taveta County to the south-west, Makueni and Machakos to the east, Nairobi, Kiambu and Nakuru to the north and Narok to the west?
As a member of a professional WhatsApp group with teachers drawn from every corner of Kenya, I get to witness similar agony of members in different regions regarding the TSC/Aon-Minet deal.
Indeed, for lack of effective flow of information, after Aon-Minet blacklisted some health facilities over allegations of collusion to fleece the organisation, some of the offensive outfits continued to exploit teachers by demanding cash for treatment. It is totally unfair and unacceptable for teachers to endure the pain of digging deeper into their pockets whenever they require medical services.
This is despite their medical allowance having been deducted from their payslips in favour of a service provider whom they were promised would offer them the best medical cover. Indeed, debate on why teachers continue to contribute to the NHIF yet they have the TSC/AonMinet medical scheme is a bone of contention.