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Accepted Paper:

Health insurance, medical markets, and the vulnerable middle class in Kenya  
Ruth Prince (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

I explore how Kenya’s precarious middle classes navigate a biopolitical landscape of healthcare emerging (before Corona) amidst expanding insurance and medical markets, epidemics of chronic disease, the globalization of medical travel, and the continued evisceration of public healthcare.

Paper long abstract:

In Kenya, a strange biopolitical landscape of healthcare is emerging (or was, before the corona pandemic) at the intersection between expanding insurance and medical markets, a middle class with access to credit, the globalization of medical travel, and the continued evisceration of public healthcare. This paper follows middle-class cancer patients and their families as they navigate these landscapes, as shifting yet precarious geographies of health insurance and medical technologies open up horizons of care just within or beyond reach. I explore trajectories of diagnosis and care that are made possible and foreclosed by Kenya’s national health insurance fund, and how these openings and closures force families into double binds, as the (overwhelming) economic burden of illness ultimately rests on family, kin and their social networks.

Panel Heal13b
Solidarity, responsibility and care: ethnographic explorations of health insurance II
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -