|Nearly 1,900 different services and products at public hospitals will become around 30 per cent more expensive in March, according to the Ministry of Health. — Photo thanhnien.vn
HCM CITY (VNS) — Nearly 1,900 different services and products at public hospitals will become around 30 per cent more expensive in March, according to the Ministry of Health.
The new tariff regime will see patients pay for several things that were earlier subsidised by the Government — like power and water, maintenance of equipment and waste treatment facilities, training and research, and more.
Nguyen Nam Lien, head of the ministry's Department of Planning and Finance, said that from July the basic salaries of medical workers would also be borne by patients, meaning tariffs would go up by a further 20 per cent.
Last year the department issued a decree to set the new fees for 1,887 health services, including check-up, bed charges, and surgery.
It was expected to take effect in November, but was delayed until March to mitigate social impacts and its effects on inflation, he said.
The fee adjustment was aimed at ending subsidies to hospitals and gradually improve the quality of health services, Lien added.
When the first round of rate hikes takes effect in March, the cost of a health check at first-class hospitals will, for example, double to VND40,000 (US$1.8).
Bed charges per day will go up from the current VND80,000 ($3.6) to VND215,000 ($9.6).
The cost of flushing the stomach will rise to VND106,000 ($4.7) from VND30,000 ($1.3).
"The increase in hospital fees is necessary for the operation of health service providers," said Nguyen Truong Son, director of Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City.
But it would hit patients without health insurance cards hard, he said.
"Relevant agencies should encourage people to buy health insurance."
Since patients would be paying much more for health services, hospitals would have to improve the quality of treatment, he added.
Pham Bao Lam, director of the Binh Thanh District Hospital, said the hike in fees would help increase salaries paid to doctors and other health workers as well as facilitate investment in medical equipment, air conditioners, and infrastructure.
Pham Luong Son, head of the Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency's Health Insurance Policy Implementation Department, said uninsured patients would suffer the hardest with the rising prices.
Around 25 per cent of the population is not covered by health insurance.
The new prices will not apply to uninsured patients from March to give them time to buy insurance, but it will in the near future.
Son too said uninsured people should buy health insurance.
While hospital administrators welcomed the tariff hikes, the public is not pleased.
Nguyen Van Hong, 62, of HCM City's Binh Thanh District, for instance expressed concern he would have to pay more for his regular health examination and medicines.
Hong, who has diabetes type two and high blood pressure, pays a monthly visit to People's Hospital 115, where it costs more than VND300,000 (US$14) for a check-up and medicines each time.
Hospital fees should be stabilised at affordable prizes for low-income people, he said. — VNS