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Public gives health insurance a pass

Update: August, 15/2012 - 10:21
People pay for services at Hoai An Health Centre in the southern province of Binh Dinh. The quality of medical care needs to be improved to encourage more people to spend money on insurance. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HCM CITY — Only 64 per cent of the population had bought health insurance by the end of last year, despite the government's aim to have full insurance coverage for everyone by 2014.

Many people are declining to purchase insurance because of low-quality healthcare, according to Health Ministry officials.

The number of insured people increased by 1.8 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009, and rose 3.7 per cent in 2011, said Tong Thi Song Huong, head of Health Insurance Department under Ministry of Health.

Speaking at a workshop on the issue held on Monday in HCM City, Huong said the quality of treatment and behavior of health staff to insured people was not good.

In addition, many hospitals are taking advantage of loopholes in the regulations by charging too much for treatment costs.

Thus, patients who have health insurance, who must pay a portion of the bill, are faced with fees that are higher than they should be.

For the poor and other special groups, such as mothers of war martyrs, the Government fully subsidizes health-insurance costs.

Huong said that treatment quality and behaviour of medical staff must be changed to ensure that patients were satisfied with their care.

Nguyen Hong Vy, deputy head of the Health Department in Tien Giang Province, said that more money should be invested in health-care facilities at the commune, ward and district level.

Currently, these facilities lack equipment for check-up and treatment, and some even lack doctors.

At the workshop, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien urged all medical staff, especially nurses and administrative staff, in the country to improve their attitude and behaviour toward the insured.

Many companies in the country, especially in the private sector, do not offer employees health insurance because they lack awareness about government policies.

Moreover, people near the poverty line have to pay 20 per cent of the costs of health insurance.

In addition, many residents believe that health insurance is only valuable for serious illnesses like cancer or for overnight stays in hospitals. — VNS

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