Kids, chronic patients suffer most with new health insurance

Parents of sick children and those who suffer from chronic ailments say they are struggling to cope with new State-issued health insurance regulations that took effect January 1.

The City Children Hospital II is crowded with parents and their kids. Many parents at the Ho Chi Minh City Children Hospital II say they now have to pay when filling their child’s prescriptions or taking them for tests

State-run hospitals previously offered free medical examinations and treatment for those with government-issued insurance.

But many parents at the Ho Chi Minh City Children Hospital II say they now have to pay when filling their child’s prescriptions or taking them for tests.

Ms. Chau Thi Hoa from the city’s Thu Duc suburban district said that previously, insurance covered the cost of treating her child’s chronic kidney disease, but now it does not.

Dr. Vu Quang Vinh from the Children Hospital II said the new regulations are unfair to kids. Before January 1, insurance paid for all children’s medical fees and doctors were able to freely prescribe the best drugs to treat them.

Now, however, the new policies have forced practitioners to first consider what medicines are covered by insurance and what families can afford. 

Dr. Vinh said the policies also omit coverage for some tests including anti-rejection drug tests following liver transplants, and patients must now pay 50 percent of the cost of anti-rejection drugs after surgery.

For some other tests, patients now have to go to specialized centers where charges are higher.

Staffs at major hospitals complain, meanwhile, that many rural patients are now encouraged to visit overcrowded city hospitals because they only have to pay 70 percent of treatment fees, while in the past they had to pay 100 percent.

Patients who are not insurance-holders, meanwhile, can opt to pay the hospital directly for services. Doing so ensures a private room, and exams and treatment on demand. Insurance holders, however, are often forced to share a bed with three or four other people, and say that this is unfair.

Many also complain that government-issued insurance covers just VND8,000-VND10,000 for each hospital bed and basic care, an amount which has not increased in 15 years.

This has led many patients to feel they are not treated as well as those who pay out-of-pocket.

Related article:
Frustration mounts over new health insurance policies

By Tuong Lam, Tien Dat - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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