[health-vn] Towards universal healthcare
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Thu Apr 16 03:11:30 EST 2009
Towards universal healthcare
Nation’s healthcare system still has a long ways to go, says World Bank conference.
A doctor gives a check-up to a child at the healthcare centre of Son Diem
Commune in Ha Tinh Province’s Huong Son District. Communal healthcare is part of
a goal to make health insurance coverage and healthcare universal in Viet Nam by
2014. — VNA/VNS Photo Huu Oai
HA NOI — Viet Nam faces great challenges in achieving universal health insurance
by 2014, said health minister Nguyen Quoc Trieu.
At a conference co-organised by the World Bank recently, the minister said that
the health insurance system in the country was still underdeveloped with only 44
per cent of the population having health insurance.
"The goal of expanding health insurance to the whole population will be
impossible without a comprehensive and overall method," he said. d
Health insurance was first introduced in the country over 15 years ago, and the
rate of the population with insurance has increased steadily over the years.
There are various types of health insurance in Viet Nam, such as compulsory
insurance, voluntary insurance, insurance for poor people.
Increases in the number of health care centres and range of health services for
communities has also contributed to the development and popularisation of health
care and health insurance.
However, there are a variety of reasons and obstacles that have limited the
expansion of health insurance usage to the whole population.
Many business and enterprises have not bought health insurance for their
workers, despite Government regulations making it compulsory.
There are also problems in the implementation of health insurance due to
inconsistencies and lack of comprehensive guiding documents, especially when it
comes to hospital fee policies or the organisation of local health care systems.
Despite greater access to care in many areas, the availability of health care
services is also still limited in remote and rural areas, which means fewer
health insurance users in those areas.
According to a 2008 World Bank report on Financing and Supplying Health Services
in Viet Nam, the country’s health insurance system is facing three main
challenges: expanding the usage to wider population, developing the services to
reduce the people’s own expenses and cutting down other expenses.
The National Assembly approved a new Law on Health Insurance last November,
finding that updates to former regulations would help develop the health
insurance system to help finance the health care system and also bring more
benefits to the people.
The new law stipulates that health insurance will become compulsory for everyone
by 2014, but that there will be different policies for different groups. There
are 25 different categories for people depending on their income levels, and
various amounts will be paid for the insurance.
The amount people will have to pay for health insurance each month is 6 per cent
of their wages, which is double what was stipulated previously. The national
budget will pay wholly or partially the health insurance fees for the poor and
Services covered by health insurance are also to increase as available funds
increase. The country’s health care service system also needs to be more
developed and expanded to meet with the people’s demand.
In the Politburo’s recent health review, it was suggested that the Government
promote the establishment of private and co-operative hospitals and health care
centres, and to continue support and investments into State-owned facilities.
This would help increase options available when healthcare needs arise.
Trieu said the Ministry of Health was currently working with relevant agencies
to publish guiding documents in order to effectively implement the new law, as
well as finding ways to encourage more people to buy health insurance. — VNS
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