Law targets universal healthcare

HA NOI (VNS) — The amended Law on Medical Insurance will assure that all people, especially poor people, have access to qualified health care services, said Minister of Health Nguyen Kim Tien last week.

Minister Tien, speaking to an audience on the weekly VTV programme "People ask, Ministers answer", said the amended law required that medical insurance was compulsory and would be purchased in family packages.

"The more members in one family, the lower the medical insurance fee is," she said.

The measure would see sharp decreases in the co-payment for health treatments for low socio-economic groups. Co-payments for low-income families would drop from 20 per cent of total treatment costs to 5 per cent. Relatives of policy beneficiaries would either face no co-payments or only be required to pay 5 per cent of the total treatment cost.

Another new regulation included in the law says that from 2016, poor families, families living in areas of particular disadvantage or islands, would be able to access health care services at any level: communal, district, provincial or central.

The Ministry has also set up a hotline at all hospitals to receive inquiries or complaints from people regarding the attitude of doctors and nurses, health check-ups and treatment procedures. The ministry has also penalised individuals who have violated the regulations.

Regarding medicine prices, the Minister said recent surveys carried out by the ministry had revealed that prices in Viet Nam were lower than in China by 1.5 to 2 times, and 2.5-3 times lower than in Thailand.

"With medicines delivered through medical insurance, we have carried out bids in a very strict manner to reduce the prices to the lowest possible level," Tien said.

Meanwhile, with medicines sold in pharmacies, the ministry has co-ordinated with the finance ministry and industry and trade ministry to build a pricing framework that all pharmacies would be required to follow.

The Minister said that the Government and the Ministry of Health would create the most favourable conditions for people to have free access to vaccinations, excluding - like many other countries in the region - the chicken pox vaccine.

She added that the ministry had imported nearly 400,000 doses of the chicken pox vaccine, despite the number being unable to meet demand. She said more chicken pox vaccines would be available in a month.

Vietnamnews

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