Medical service fee hike justified, to provide better healthcare

Much public concern has been raised at the Health Ministry’s proposal to increase medical service fees, which the ministry justifies as fair, to meet with present day costs and improved services.

Tran Duc Long (Photo: SGGP)

Tran Duc Long, head of the Legal Department of the Health Ministry, told a Sai Gon Giai Phong reporter that the fee price increase was very much justified to meet with today’s inflation and also to avail of better medical services and healthcare programs.

According to Long, the medical service fee adjustment is necessary because the existing fee bracket was issued in 1995 and no longer suitable in the present day context, making it difficult for government hospitals to function effectively.

Government-owned hospitals are currently providing free medical care, the cost of which is covered by the funding received by the hospitals.

Consequently, both rich and poor enjoy the same healthcare facilities, which seem unfair.

For all practical purposes hospital fees must be revised, or else many state hospitals face risk of closure. This would create a serious problem, as hospitals in districts are vital for the health of the people and also help in reducing pressure on the larger hospitals in big cities, said Long.

On the other hand, Long affirmed that the price adjustment would not take place in non-government hospitals because most of the private hospitals were charging appropriately for their services.

Long added that the government would pay for disadvantaged people and social welfare beneficiaries via insurance cover. Currently, around 62 percent of social welfare beneficiaries have insurance cover. The country will strive to provide 80 percent of its citizens with insurance cards. 20 percent of the remainder are rich and can afford to pay high medical service bills.

Nevertheless, the government will raise medical insurance limits to allow easier payments of medical expenses. The Ministry of Health is working with related agencies to establish a fund to support for better medical insurance facilities, said Long.

Long also said that the price adjustment will be applicable only on high-tech facilities like blood transfusion, intravenous fluids, chemicals and materials such as needles. The ministry is planning to set up a committee to decide the pricing after which it will determine the exact fee hike.

Long calmed the public, saying that the ministry would impose stiff penalties on hospitals that raised the fee more than the regulated price range.

The Ministry of Health will liaise with the Ministry of Finance to assess the amount to be raised for medical insurance payment, to be able to help cover the increased medical fees.

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By Tuong Lam - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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