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Health insurance may be compulsory

Update: September, 12/2013 - 08:33
Ha Noi's National Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Health insurance should be made compulsory to increase the number of insured people, particularly agricultural labourers and forest workers, lawmakers have said.—VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HA NOI (VNS) — Vietnamese lawmakers yesterday agreed that health insurance should be made compulsory to ensure there was more participation. They were attending the 21st session of the National Assembly Standing Committee.

"Compulsory membership would help increase the numbers of insured people, particularly agricultural labourers and forest workers," said Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

Tien said that changing from voluntary to compulsory payments would help increase funds which, in turn, would consolidate their stability and increasing benefits for patients.

Tien said the health insurance fund would be further supported by plans to increase insurance fees from the current 4.4 per cent of the minimum wage to 4.5-5 per cent or even 6 per cent. In addition, a part of examination and treatment fees would also be used to boost the health insurance fund.

According to the draft of the revised health-insurance law, health insurance members would be divided into five groups. This would cover labourers, employers, a group subsidised by the social insurance agency, groups subsidised fully and partly by the Government; and members who pay their own health-insurance fees.

The poor, and ethnic people living in difficult areas would receive free cover. Those slightly better off and others who contributed to the country's revolution would have up to 95 per cent of fees paid by the Government.

Twenty of the 52 articles of the health-insurance law would be revised, including important articles relating to insurance subjects, participation, benefits and the fund management.

Deputies said the revised law aimed to expand health insurance cover to 70 per cent of the population by 2015 and 80 per cent by 2020.

Chairman of the NA Law Committee Phan Trung Ly said compulsory insurance might conflict with current legal regulations.

NA Deputy Chairman Huynh Ngoc Son also said that people had the right to decide to buy health insurance or not. He suggested that wider participation should be considered carefully.

According to a report from the NA Standing Committee on health insurance from 2009-12, the rate of those covered by health insurance had increased quickly from 58.2 per cent in 2009 to 66.8 per cent in 2012.

The health insurance fund overspent nearly VND3.1trillion (US$147million) in 2009, but had a surplus of VND2.8trillion ($133million) in 2010 and nearly VND12.9 trillion ($614million) in 2012.

Chairman of the NA Social Affairs Committee Truong Thi Mai said that many provinces had a health-insurance rate of nearly 100 per cent of population. This had created a fund surplus in the central region and Central Highlands.

There are also four provinces, Nam Dinh, Tay Ninh, Kien Giang and Binh Phuoc, with a health-insurance rate of less than 50 per cent in 2012. This was because of poor communications and inadequate awareness by local leaders. — VNS


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