Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers what they thought the pros and cons would be if foreigners working in Viet Nam were included in the country's social and health insurance programme. We also asked if they thought it would be feasible given the complex nature and differences between other countries and Viet Nam's health insurance policies.
Alex Jameson, Canadian
Our state health care insurance is provided to all of our teachers, part-time or full-time. They are registered at Thu Cuc hospital. It's insurance for outpatient services only, the small stuff like ear infections. We have additional coverage through liberty insurance for emergencies, and we send people to the French hospital. Not sure how new law changes anything.
John Haywood, Canadian
This proposal is something most countries already have (at least those I have lived in) but I doubt it would work in Viet Nam. Your average Vietnamese wage can't support the extra loss in take home pay. Foreigners working here legally probably already have private medical coverage which gives them access to better health care. Those working illegally don't pay taxes so they wouldn't be paying into this proposed health care fund either.
Andrew Burden, Canadian
Mandatory insurance sounds good in principle, but foreigners deserve the best care and quality service available. I would demand an international standard of health care; no wrong vaccines or expectations to tip for better service.
In an emergency situation, you take the quickest and closest care. If there is a bit of time, and I am conscious, I would want to search for a specialist.
Can I opt out? Can I make a claim on my insurance plan?
In this case, I think there are too many questions unanswered and little transparency. I would automatically trust Singapore and Japan -other countries in Asia? Not so much. As long as I can pass my work permit physical, I will take a pass on the rest.
Anne Schmidt, American
As an expat who came to Viet Nam on a fellowship, I definitely wouldn't want to be subject to mandatory social and health insurance. I'm completely covered through my fellowship. So if this mandatory insurance law meant I'd have to pay premiums for a plan I'd never use – I'm against it.
I do think it would be a good idea to give expats the choice to sign up! If you don't already have insurance here, buying international insurance is really expensive and the coverage is often lackluster. When my insurance runs out, I'd think about signing up for this, depending on the cost and what's included. I'd have a lot of questions: Would they cover pre-existing conditions? Which hospitals would I be able to go to? Other questions like that.
Laurence B., French
I find this law proposal quite ridiculous to say the least. Most foreigners living in Viet Nam do not subscribe to a health insurance from here mostly because they already have one back in their home country, but also given the poor quality of the Vietnamese ones. If they do subscribe to one in Viet Nam, they will certainly not settle for a basic needs-corporate health insurance, believe me.
Some of us have been working here for years, started a family and consider this country as home. It's only natural that we pay taxes, but, in my opinion, making this insurance health law of a mandatory nature is just another additional tax in our daily lives.
Moreover, most Vietnamese people I know are not covered by health insurance, so I simply wonder why the government won't focus on Vietnamese workers first. Most of us, foreign workers, do not need it really, so it feels like a bit of a waste.
On the other hand, what we, foreign workers, really need is to be able to live in Viet Nam without having to leave the territory every single time our visa expires! We have a work permit, a legit labor contract, we pay taxes but somehow we are still treated like mere tourists at best, or white immigrants at worst. This is what we really need, not health insurance!
Pay for insurance that will only work at one hospital? And, when you go there they will say that foreigners need to go to Viet-Phap and pay cash. It's essentially an additional tax.
I have private insurance that covers here and overseas, but I have a niggling suspicion that any mandatory state insurance will have less cover, remain mandatory and be limited to a few hospitals with endless red tape and paperwork not readily available if you really do need hospital treatment.
JC Smith, British
I think it will make almost no difference as the quality of the medical care provided under medical insurance or welfare will probably fail to meet the standards expected by most foreigners. — VNS