HA NOI (VNS) — Hospitals in 18 cities and provinces will postpone the application of new hospital fees up to five times higher than current levels until the first quarter of next year to ease the financial burden on patients and help to curb inflation. The cities and provinces include Ha Noi and HCM City.
|Residents pay hospital fees at Ha Noi's Bach Mai Hospital. An increase in fees will be postponed until the beginning of next year in 18 cities and provinces, including Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
The decision follows Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's requirement at the Government's monthly meeting in September that ministries should consider the economic effects of the new fees and prepare a detailed plan for their introduction.
The announcement of the new fees was blamed on the high consumer price index for the month, which rose 2.2 per cent over the previous month.
However, initial reports from localities where the new fees have been introduced, show that they have improved quality of treatment, waiting times have fallen, and better services are being provided by doctors and health staff.
Last February, the Ministry of Health issued Circular 04 stipulating new hospital fees for 447 health services. The fees were based on the maximum prices set by the Ministries of Health and Finance.
Since June, 45 cities and provinces have applied the new fees at between 60 and 80 per cent of the ceiling allowed by the two ministries.
Thirty four out of 38 public hospitals have also adjusted their fees.
However the huge increases have placed a burden on most poor people, especially farmers, and those in remote mountain areas without health insurance.
Those with chronic diseases have also been hit hard.
Nguyen Nam Lien, vice head of the ministry's Planning and Finance Department, said the 18 cities and provinces had been given approval to delay the fees until the first three months of next year.
Nguyen Van Son, director of central Binh Thuan Province's Department of Health, one of the localities that still charges the old fees, said 13 hospitals, seven health centres and 137 health clinics were still collecting the old fees.
He said these hospitals and health clinics would adjust new service fees to 66 per cent of the permissible limit from early next year.
Dang Thi Minh, director of northern Nam Dinh Province's Department of Health, said that most locals earned a low income from agricultural production, so 18 hospitals in the province would only increase fees to 70 per cent of the maximum level. — VNS