The Effects of Health Purchasing Reforms on Equity, Access, Quality of Care, and Financial Protection in Kenya: A Narrative Review
Kabia E, Kazungu J, Barasa E
Health Syst Reform. 2022;8
Kenya has implemented several health purchasing reforms to facilitate progress toward universal health coverage. We conducted a narrative review of peer-reviewed and grey literature to examine how these reforms have affected health system outcomes in terms of equity, access, quality of care, and financial protection. We categorized the purchasing reforms we identified into the areas of benefits specification, provider payment, and performance monitoring. We found that the introduction and expansion of benefit packages for maternity, outpatient, and specialized services improved responsiveness to population needs and enhanced protection from financial hardship. However, access to service entitlements was limited by inadequate awareness of the covered services among providers and lack of service availability at contracted facilities. Provider payment reforms increased health facilities' access to funds, which enhanced service delivery, quality of care, and staff motivation. But delays and the perceived inadequacy of payment rates incentivized negative provider behavior, which limited access to care and exposed patients to out-of-pocket payments. We found that performance monitoring reforms improved the quality assurance capacity of the public insurer and enhanced patient safety, service utilization, and quality of care provided by facilities. Although health purchasing reforms have improved access, quality of care, and financial risk protection to some extent in Kenya, they should be aligned and implemented jointly rather than as individual interventions. Measures that policymakers might consider include strengthening communication of health benefits, timely and adequate payment of providers, and enhancing health facility autonomy over the revenues they generate.