HCM CITY (VNS)— Fees at hospitals managed by HCM City's Department of Health could go up substantially in August if the city's People's Council approves the increase.
The fee hike of up to 65-75 per cent of the ceiling levels set by the Health Ministry was proposed by the city's People's Committee at a meeting last week.
Under the proposal, the price of medical examinations, beds and medical tests would rise by 75 per cent. Surgery costs would go up by 65 per cent.
The fee would be applied at 376 public hospitals, centres and one clinic managed by the Health Department.
The Department has also proposed an increase of 75 per cent of the Health Ministry's ceiling by 2014; a 90 per cent hike in 2015; and a 100 per cent increase in 2016.
For the last three years, public hospitals in the city have hiked fees, but the additional funds were insufficient to cover costs of new equipment and services.
The new hospital fees will help patients gain access to better healthcare services, according to the department.
Currently, 63 per cent of HCM City residents use health insurance cards. The health insurance fund pays 80 per cent of the costs of medical examinations and treatment for insured patients.
For the poor and near-poor, the city provides 15 per cent of the costs of medical examinations and treatment.
The hike in fees could cause strain on the national health insurance fund since payments from the fund would rise, a report from the Health Department said. Fees for health insurance cards could also go up.
In recent years, public hospitals have improved facilities by buying machines and equipment as well as applying IT.
The People's Councils in 61 out of 63 provinces and cities in the country have approved a new hospital-fee framework proposed under the ministry's Circular 04 issued last year.
In Ha Noi, the People's Council is expected to approve a fivefold increase for public hospital fees from August 1.
Hospital fees in the city by 2014 would be 75 per cent of the maximum level regulated by the ministry.
Like HCM City, Ha Noi wants to raise the fees to 100 per cent of the ministry's ceiling by 2015.
Public hospitals in HCM City collected more than VND4.8 trillion (US$228.6 million) in patient fees in 2010; nearly VND6.3 trillion ($300 million) in 2011; and more than VND7.5 trillion ($357 million) in 2012. — VNS