Unions accused of colluding with TSC to impose AON Medical scheme on teachers
Some teachers are calling for the abolition of the AON Minet medical scheme, claiming that they are unable to obtain adequate medical care.
Teachers who spoke to The Nation said the insurer has refused to pay medical bills, forcing them to pay for treatment out of their own pockets.
They complained that some of the hospitals listed by the scheme are inaccessible to wheelchair-bound patients due to their location in tall buildings, while others are far from teachers’ homes.
They also complained that scan approvals were taking too long, forcing teachers to give up and seek treatment at unaccredited hospitals.
“This means that once a teacher has gone to a hospital within a week, their dependants cannot access treatment within that week,” explained a teacher.
Ms Omollo stated that forcing teachers into AON Minet medical scheme was unconstitutional and a violation of the TSC Act (2012) and the code of regulations for teachers.
The group also includes Mr Salvin Munene (Eastern), Mr Nelson Kirui (Rift Valley), Ms Eva Muchemi (Nairobi), Ms Betty Koech (Rift Valley), Ms Ann Wanyoike (Nairobi), Mr Mwangi Kinyua (Nakuru), and Mr Fanuel Ambole (Machakos).
Ms Omollo believes that teachers should be allowed to select a plan that best suits their needs. Teachers have accused the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) of conspiring with TSC to keep the AON Minet medical scheme running.
The group termed AON Minet as cash cow for union officials and the TSC. Except for a few private hospitals that are not accessible to all teachers, they claimed no serious hospitals have been approved.
According to the teachers, approvals for treatment at some large hospitals can take up to a month. On Sunday, a Kisumu County secondary school teacher lost her 16-month-old baby after AON Minet delayed approving the baby’s referral to a better hospital.
Moses Mbora, the Nairobi branch secretary of Kuppet, admitted that teachers have faced serious challenges when seeking treatment using the AON Minet medical card. Mr Mbora stated that the majority of the difficulties faced by teachers are due to approval delays and some hospitals overcharging.
He claims that teachers with chronic illnesses and expectant mothers who give birth before 37 weeks are frequently overcharged adding that the union has raised the concerns with TSC.
Some approved hospitals, according to teachers, lack drugs, while the medical scheme refuses to pay bills for some hospitals in some cases.
There are no doctors in the majority of the approved hospitals, and patients are cared for by nurses.
Ms Omollo explained that teachers do not want AON Minet as it is a sham and the epitome of frustration. “They want a medical plan negotiated by them because it’s their money.”
Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu said comprehensive medical coverage was the best thing teachers could have and that the union was working to address the challenges.
He noted that AON Minet, like any other organization, may face challenges. Akelo Misori, Secretary-General of the Kuppet, stated that signing medical scheme contracts is not within the union’s purview.
“Whoever is calling for the revocation of the medical scheme is being mischievous and is malicious. What I know, is that even during this Covid-19 period, the teachers’ scheme was the first to cover Covid cases. It is, however, not a perfect scheme, and that provides the opportunity for improvement,” said Mr Misori.
Mr Misori stated that when the medical scheme was implemented in 2015, Kuppet brought a case to stop it, but teachers said they wanted it, and the union dropped the court case.
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According to TSC, the teachers’ medical scheme covers over 1 million people, including 332,000 registered teachers and their dependents. Inpatient, outpatient, optical, dental, maternity, group life, and last expense (funeral) expenses are all covered by the medical plan.
Teachers can also travel outside of the country for medical treatment under the scheme, which has approved over 500 hospitals and clinics across the country.