PM orders cheaper health insurance for poor people

The Ministry of Health and Vietnam Social Insurance have been instructed by the Prime Minister to issue health insurance cards to families whose economic condition is close to the poverty line and provide support to such people.

The PM also encouraged provincial and municipal authorities to mobile all resources such as local budget, medical funds and other such means to support health insurance for about 30 percent people living close to the poverty line.

The Government will raise health insurance premiums for such poor and disadvantaged people to 70 percent, from the current 50 percent. People living in distant mountainous regions and those belonging to ethnic minority groups will enjoy 100 percent support for health insurance. This provision will take effect from January 1, 2013.

This year, the Government has allocated around VND2,381 billion (US$114 million) to provide support to more than six million disadvantaged people in the country for purchase of health insurance. Despite so much support, very few people have come forward to purchase low cost health insurance, as their living conditions are too poor to even afford to pay that small amount.

Tong Thi Song Huong, director of the Department of Health Insurance under the Ministry of Health, said that the numbers of health insurance card holders in the country are 56 million, making up 64 percent of the national population.

However, she said that more than 30 percent of the population so far did not have health insurance, most of who belong to the low economic strata. Due to poor economic conditions, these people neglect buying health insurance and thus face a financial crisis when they fall ill.

By L. Nguyen - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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