HIV infected people encouraged to buy medical insurance

Though the government urged the health sector must facilitate people living with HIV/AIDS to have medical insurance, just around 40 percent of them have insurance cards. In fact, HIV infected people's treatment fee is covered by insurance company.

It will be a big challenge for these patients when international funds and organizations will stop providing financial aids in 2017 while the number of fresh HIV infected people is on upward trend. That is reason why the Ministry of Health encourages them to buy medical insurance cards. 

Yet very few people purchase the insurrance. As per the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City, just 50 percent of HIV/AIDS people own medical insurance cards; some of them use the card because they fret their personal date to be leaked.

Deputy Head of the department of Health Dr. Nguyen Huu Hung said that some HIV infected people can not afford the insurance card; others are homeless; accordingly they have not enjoyed governmental support in buying medical insurance; and many people worry to be discriminated so they have not bought medical insurance cards.

So far, HIV-positive people have just received treatment in medical clinics where offer antiretroviral (ARV) drug; however, these medical clinics are overloaded. For instance, Dr. Hung said, in Ho Chi Minh City, 28,000 out of 41,000 infected people had received treatment meanwhile the city has 33 clinics offering ARV treatment. 

When international funds and organizations stop sponsoring Vietnam, a patient will have to pay from VND12,000 to VND24,000 for medical fee while most of HIV-infected people come from low-income families. 

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said that the Southeast Asian country is striving to be reached the 90–90–90 treatment targets by 2020, hoping that 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 percent of them with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

In reality, figure provided by localities is lower than its target. Moreover, expenditure to achieve the goal depends mostly in aids. The Administration of HIV/AIDS Control of Vietnam under the Ministry of Health said that it is estimated that annual spending for ARV drug is VND420 billion which is a big sum. Once aids are stopped, patients will have more financial burden.

"Local health sector must ensure provision of the special drug and treatment to special patients and facilitate them to buy medical insurance", said deputy Health Long. 

According to the Ministry of Health, in the first 10 months of 2016, there were 8,059 new HIV infections in Vietnam. Nearly 5,300 people were diagnosed with AIDS and 1,600 people died of AIDS-related illnesses. It is estimated that in 2016, there are around 10,000 new HIV infections; 6.500 would develop AIDS and 2,000 of them would die due to the disease. There are 145 over 385 medical clinics nationwide provide treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS yet 72 ones are covered with medical insurance.

By Tuong Lam - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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