Nguyen Thi Minh, General Director of Viet Nam Social Insurance, speaks to Thoi Bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) about healthcare coverage.
Six months after the amended law came into effect, what have you done to attract more people to sign up for health insurance ?
Our association set up a specific group in charge of answering questions about health insurance. We also asked the Viet Nam Social Insurance Association in different provinces to set up local consulting groups. We have a specific team of staff at hospitals at district and central level who are ready to answer all questions and resolve all difficulties that local inhabitants may face when signing up for health insurance.
In fact, many rural and mountainous health insurance users do not know how to use the service, or are afraid due to complications and slow procedures.
The Viet Nam Social Insurance Association will implement several measures to simplify health insurance procedures to motivate more people to buy insurance.
At the moment, most health-insurance members are employees in State-run organisations, groups subsidised by the social insurance agency, and groups subsidised fully and partly by the Government. The rest of society has not been active in signing up. Could you explain why?
It's true that the Health Insurance Law has failed to attract many people living near the poverty line, as well as middle-income households involved in the agro-forestry-fishery.
Students at high school and university have also not been active in paying for or having access to services. According to latest statistics, in many provinces, even 20 per cent of students have not signed up for health insurance.
The number of family members participating in health insurance in the first six months of this year increased, but we expected a higher number. There are several reasons for this.
One of them is the lack of local support. Many local governments have not paid health-insurance expenses for those living near the poverty line.
Another reason is poor law enforcement by employers. Haft of the nation's enterprises avoid paying health insurance - or have only paid a part of it. Moreover, as the quality of hospitals in some regions is not good, fewer people are attracted.
Poor communication and inadequate awareness by local leaders can also explain the situation. Actually, only 70 per cent of Vietnamese have signed up for health insurance. What will you do to encourage the remaining 30 per cent to pay?
Our association and the Health Ministry recently submitted a request to the Prime Minister to state that the number of local inhabitants paying health insurance is an important way of evaluating socio-economic development of a region.
We have also asked the Ministry of Education and Training to step up its communication campaign to encourage students to buy health insurance. By the end of this year, we expect almost 100 per cent of students will be paying.
We are working with the Ministry of Finance on a loan scheme for different groups. Actually, the "near poor" group only has to pay 30 per cent of the cost of an insurance cards. Members of middle-income households working in the agro-forestry-fishery sectors also only have to pay about 50 per cent.
That's why we have asked local governments to support these two categories so that they can access health insurance free of charge.
We have also asked the Health Ministry to encourage hospitals to offer more health privileges to the disadvantaged. — VNS