|Viet Nam used to be a country where 29 localities had health insurance coverage less than 65 per cent. But by the end of 2015, the lowest locality had a coverage rate of 69 per cent while the national average reached about 77 per cent. — Photo nongnghiep.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Enterprises that evade paying for insurance for their employees should be punished, said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh yesterday following a report that insurance debt in Viet Nam reached more than VND7.6 trillion (US$339.2 million) in 2015.
The figure was made public yesterday in an online conference reviewing Viet Nam's social insurance.
Viet Nam Social Security Deputy (VNSS) General Director Nguyen Minh Thao said that the debt included three types of complimentary insurance that every enterprise with more than 10 employers is supposed to pay for their workers – social insurance, health insurance and unemployment insurance.
The Deputy PM said that the insurance debt was "huge" – accounting for about 3.54 per cent of the total insurance collected of VND216 trillion ($9.6 billion) - and "sufficient to run the whole sector's state agencies".
"VNSS will have the authority to inspect the insurance-paying activities from 2016, and it must strictly and publicly handle any organisations and individuals that evade or delay paying for the insurance," said Ninh.
The jurisdiction over inspection was first granted to the VNSS in the amended Law on Social Insurance in 2014 as an attempt to solve the long-standing insurance evasion issue, which stood at more than VND11 trillion ($488.8 million) two years ago.
"If we are not determined enough to tackle the problem, it would cause unfairness between enterprises and affect employees' rights," said Ninh.
In 2015 VNSS ran checks on its 19,000 sub-agencies in cities, provinces and districts nation-wide to find out that 472 units and individuals have committed wrongdoings regarding insurance, said Thao. The VNSS asked them to repay some VND107 billion ($4.77 million) for the insurance evasion.
The report also showed an increase this year in both the number of people using the three insurance programmes, at 70.2 million – 8.3 per cent higher than 2014's, and the amount figure collected of VND216 trillion ($9.6 billion) – nearly VND19 trillion ($848.1 million) more than that of 2014.
The number of people buying health insurance jumped "at a remarkable pace", said Thao.
"Viet Nam used to be a country where 29 localities had health insurance coverage less than 65 per cent. But by the end of 2015, the lowest locality had a coverage rate of 69 per cent while the national average reached about 77 per cent," he said.
Despite the promising figure, VNSS still has a lot of work to achieve universal health insurance, said the Deputy PM.
"In order to realise this target, we have to make health insurance accessible to the remaining 23 per cent of people. Yet it is extremely hard to increase just one per cent," Ninh said.
"Part of the reason for this is the habit of Vietnamese to buy insurance only when they are sick, or have financial difficulties," he said. "We should promote dissemination work to change the mindset of the citizens." — VNS