Patients to pay for half of cancer drugs

Update: December, 31/2014 - 10:23
Cancer drugs account for a large percentage of insurance expenses. — Photo 24h

HA NOI (VNS) — Cancer patients will have to pay for many drugs previously covered by the State's health insurance fund when the new Law on Insurance goes into effect next year.

These include Erlotinib and Gefitinib, used to treat lung cancer, and Trastuzumab, used to treat breast cancer. Head of the Health Insurance Department Tong Thi Song Huong said these drugs were too expensive for the fund to cover completely.

Under the new law, patients will pay half the cost for 44 drugs, including those used to treat colorectal cancer and early-stage breast cancer, which cost VND200-800 million (US$9,400-$37,000) per month, said Pham Luong Son, head of the Viet Nam Social Insurance's unit on Health Insurance Implementation.

Son said any drugs covered by the insurance fund must meet requirements for cost and effectiveness and must be legally available in Viet Nam.

The fund currently covers the drug used to treat Hepatitis C. Next year, however, patients will have to pay 70 per cent of the cost. Covering the treatment fully would cost VND 90 trillion (US$4.2 billion) each year, according to Son.

"We need to make the adjustment to ensure we balance the effective use of the insurance fund and effective treatment for patients," he said.

Cancer drugs account for a large percentage of insurance expenses. The fund paid a total of VND48 trillion ($2 billion) for cancer treatment in 2013, according to a representative from the Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency.

Viet Nam has 130,000-160,000 new cancer cases and 85,000-115,000 fatalities each year. — VNS