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Hospital fees soar as subsidies drop

Update: October, 28/2015 - 07:40
People pay for hospital fees at the Thai Nguyen Central General Hospital. Hospital fees will increase by two to seven times. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HA NOI (VNS) — Hospital fees will increase between two and seven times once a proposed decree goes into effect, according to Pham Luong Son, a representative of the Social Insurance office.

The government plans to end direct subsidies for hospitals and instead pay for treatment for poorer citizens through social insurence.

The decree is expected to be enacted next month.

Basic salary and other special allowances for medical staff will also be used to calculate hospital fees.

At present, the fees only cover the costs of direct services received by patients, including medicines, chemicals and consumable materials, electricity and waste, and equipment maintenance.

According to the new adjustment, the cost of 1,800 medical services will increase.

For example, health check-up fees at hospitals rated first-class by the Ministry of Health will increase from VND20,000 (about US$1) to VND40,000 (about $1.80) per visit.

At third- and fourth-class hospitals, the fees will go up from VND7,000 ($0.30) to VND30,000 (about $1.50) per visit. At health centres in wards and communes, the fees will rise from VND5,000 ($0.20) to VND10,000 (about $0.50).

Fees paid for hospital beds will also increase depending on departments and the classification of hospitals.

For example, bed fees for internal medicine departments of first-class hospitals will rise from VND80,000 ($3.50) per person per day to about VND215,000 ($9.50) per person per day. However, fees for shared beds remain unchanged.

According to Circular No 4, patients only pay 50 per cent for beds shared by two patients, and 30 per cent for beds shared by three patients, Son said.

In addition, the Ministry of Health will also apply the same prices for surgical operations and hospital beds in hospitals of all levels nationwide.

"Gastrectomy fees at district-level, city-level, central and special hospitals are VND500,000 ($22) ,VND800,000 (nearly $36), VND1.2 million (nearly $54) and VND1.4 million (nearly $63), respectively," Son said.

"This is not fair for both medical workers and patients because the consumable medical materials are the same," he added. "This can be considered a driving force to pressure hospitals to improve their service quality to attract more patients."

Nguyen Thi Bich Huong, deputy director of Ha Noi-based Viet Duc Hospital, said the increase in hospital fees would impose a heavy burden on patients without health insurance cards.

"Relevant agencies should step up efforts to raise people's awareness about the importance of health insurance and encourage them to buy social health insurance cards," she added.

Nguyen Ngoc Hien, deputy director of Bach Mai Hospital, said the increase would affect all patients, regardless of whether they have health insurance, but also added that patients would enjoy better health services. — VNS

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