New health insurance regulations raise concerns

Many Ho Chi Minh City residents are complaining that new health insurance regulations, which took effect January 1, were not made clear earlier. The HCMC Social Insurance Company and various medical institutes, meanwhile, are trying to ease concerns over several changes made to insurance cardholders’ policies and rights.

Patients line up to see doctors at HCMC’s Cho Ray hospital on January 4. New health insurance regulations are causing confusion for patients and health workers. (Photo: SGGP)

Healthcare clinics in the city were extremely crowded over the weekend with medical workers run off their feet trying to explain the new regulations. At a hospital in District 1, a 75-year-old woman was confused as to why she was only given three days’ worth of medicine when she received 15 days’ worth previously.

While paying treatment fees at a hospital in District 3, Ms. P.T.N questioned why holders of old health insurance cards didn’t have to pay up front. If the new regulations had been made clear, she would have used her old card instead, Ms. P.T.N said.

Major hospitals in the city are dealing with similar confusion. In District 5’s Cho Ray hospital, for instance, staff asked for help from insurance company officials for 100 patients who held old hospital-transfer documents, as they weren’t sure how to handle it.

Director Cao Van Sang of the HCMC Social Insurance Company says the organization anticipated a bumpy transition period but is working to ensure timely resolutions and maintain patients’ rights.

A team of inspectors from the Ministry of Health said January 4 that the Cho Ray and Thong Nhat hospitals had prepared well to carry out the changes.

The hospitals utilized IT, improved administrative steps, and increased healthcare workers in a bid to reduce patient wait times, they said. Many patients, however, said they weren’t aware of the new regulations because local governments hadn’t publicized them.

Luu Thi Thanh Huyen, deputy head of the Payment Survey Division under the HCMC Social Insurance Agency, said the old insurance cards can still be used for one last treatment but patients will then be issued new ones.

The agency has also provided over 600,000 cards for children under the age of six, which parents can obtain from local authorities. There are no changes to children’s policies.

Le Van Kham, deputy director of the Health Insurance Department under the health ministry, said most confusion was in regards to retirees’ cards, which were valid for up to four years. In addition, they received free treatment earlier, but now must pay up to 5 percent of the total cost.

By T. Lam, Tien Dat - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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