HCM CITY — Millions of workers and people assessed to be living near the poverty line have not joined health insurance schemes three years after a law aiming at universal healthcare by 2015 was passed, according to the Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency.
|Workers in HCM City's Tan Thoi Hiep Industrial Park get health check and consultancy. Millions of workers and poor households still do not have health insurance. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
Tong Thi Song Huong, head of the agency, told the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper that the total number of insured people has increased to around 56 million, accounting for 63.7 per cent of the population.
During the last three years, several healthcare policies have been improved and about 11,000 public and private hospitals as well as health clinics have joining various insurance schemes, she said.
However, more than 6 million workers did not have health insurance because of employers' low awareness or failure to abide by the law, Huong said.
Furthermore, agencies have failed to carry out regular inspections to ensure compliance and violators were not punished severely enough.
Moreover, around 25 per cent of 6 million people living near the poverty line, at incomes of VND401,000-520,000 per month for people in rural areas and VND501,000-650,000 per month for ones in urban areas, have not bought health insurance although the State increased subsidies for them.
The subsidy has been increased from 50 to 70 per cent since the beginning of this year, Huong said.
Residents of some disadvantaged localities in areas like Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have had as much as 90 per cent of their healthcare costs subsidised because of additional support from their local budgets and international organisations, she said.
"The reason for the low number is because these people do not have information on the financial support they are entitled to when buying health insurance. Even when they want to buy health insurance they do not know where to go and how to do it," Huomg said.
The agency also said unpaid health insurance premiums by employers since the beginning of the year had risen to VND2.2 trillion ($105 million).
It said that many hospitals and clinics were abusing health insurance schemes in various ways including carrying out needless tests and prescribing expensive medicines (instead of cheaper generic ones).
To mark the Viet Nam Health Insurance Day, which falls on July 1, the agency as well as the Ministry of Health would step up propaganda to boost access to health insurance and strengthen inspections to prevent abuse of insurance schemes, Huong said. — VNS