Vietnam delays hospital fee hike until 2016

The Ministry of Health decided to delay an increase in some 1,800 medical service fees at state-owned hospitals until next year instead of applying it on November 15 as previously planned with related agencies, said Nguyen Nam Lien, head of the ministry’s Department of Finance and Planning yesterday.

Mr. Lien said that the deferment would give the ministry more time to provide training for healthcare facilities in applying new medicinal service prices, which are 2-5 times higher than current rates as well as increase information to encourage people to buy health insurance cards before the increase of medical service fee is in place.

Currently, the rate of people in 10 provinces who agreed to buy health insurance is less than 60 percent of a province’s population.

The hike in medical fee comprises of two phases. The hike of the first phase will include expenses directly related to medical examination and treatment of patients and various allowances for medical workers such as night shift, operation fee. In this phase fee is just applied for insurance card holder. In the second phase, new medical fee will be calculated medical workers’ and applied for everyone.

According to the Ministry’s plan, the new medical charges which will be 2-4 times higher than current rates; accordingly these uninsured people will be heavily affected by the upcoming increase in hospital fees. In total only 73 percent of the country’s population is covered by health insurance, which means 27 percent of the remaining or 24 million people without getting them covered by health insurance are still paying hospital fees by themselves, Son said.

By MINH KHANG – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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