Law amendments needed to ensure social insurance benefits for COVID patients: official

March, 11/2022 - 12:33

Responding to complaints about difficulties COVID patients have had obtaining a certificate of leave to apply for social insurance benefits, Associate Professor, Dr. Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the Ministry of Health spoke to  Báo Tin Tức (News) newspaper about the amendments that will be made to make it easy and convenient for people to request benefits.

 

Associate Professor Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the health ministry. VNA/VNS Photo

Responding to complaints about difficulties COVID patients have had obtaining a certificate of leave to apply for social insurance benefits, Associate Professor, Dr. Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the Ministry of Health spoke to  Báo Tin Tức (News) newspaper about the amendments that will be made to make it easy and convenient for people to request benefits.

Currently, the Ministry of Health is in the process of amending Circular No. 56/2017/TT-BYT. What modifications are worth noting?

The circular was issued in 2017 before COVID-19 started. The pandemic has impacted all aspects of life, economy and society over the past two years. The impact it has on employees is significant.

It is urgent to amend Circular 56/2017 to match the actual situation of the country.

In the immediate future, we will give priority to amending and supplementing the contents to solve problems related to the issuance of COVID-19 related documents for employees to be entitled to paid leave and other problems in implementing the circular.

After amending the content, how will people request COVID-19 related documents?

Issuing the certificate of sick leave (due to COVID-19) for social insurance participants is a new thing and required only until the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of March 7, Việt Nam had more than 4.4 million COVID-19 cases in 63 provinces and cities. In seven days from February 27 to March 6, the country recorded a daily average of 117,379 cases. Nearly 99 per cent of the cases were treated at home. Therefore, the demand for COVID-19 related documents is very high.

To solve this problem, the health ministry has held many meetings with the Việt Nam Social Insurance, the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs as well as departments and agencies of the health ministry to review legal documents related to the issuance of COVID-19 related documents. 

People line up for certification regarding quarantine at home in Hà Nội. Photo baotintuc.vn 

​We have assessed and discussed difficulties and problems, analysed the causes and proposed solutions to ensure the rights of employees participating in social insurance when they are infected with COVID-19.

When the revised Circular is issued, documents like the decision on home isolation (issued by local authorities) or the document of quarantine completion (issued by local authorities) are allowed to substitute the certificate of sick leave. Thanks to this, we can avoid crowds of people going to health facilities to request the sick leave certificate.

This will help to reduce the overload for the grassroots health system in many places, especially in big cities and some localities with a high number of cases such as Hà Nội, Bắc Giang, Hải Dương, Hòa Bình, Bắc Ninh, Hải Phòng. In these localities, people infected with COVID-19 who are treated at home have to queue up, and take a long time to get this certificate.

Given the current situation of the pandemic, is amending the circular considered a priority to ensure the rights of social insurance participants?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many consequences and problems. Some issues are not included in the Law on Social Insurance and the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment.

For example, according to Article 100 of the Law on Social Insurance, documents needed to be entitled sickness compensation for people with COVID-19 include two types.

The first is an original or copy of the hospital discharge document for employees or employees’ children who undergo inpatient treatment. In case the employee or the employee's children receive outpatient treatment, a certificate of leave must be obtained.

In fact, COVID-19 patients treated at home cannot go to medical examination and treatment establishments to request the certificate of leave as regulated in the circular.

Patients with COVID-19 treated at home can only acquire one of the following documents: the decision on home isolation issued by the local authorities, certificate of quarantine completion issued by the local authorities, COVID-19 positive test paper issued by medical facilities, the document of COVID-19 infection issued by commune’s health clinic, mobile health stations, community COVID-19 team, or businesses or state agencies’ health department.

Other documents include the certificate of leave issued by the commune’s health clinic, mobile health stations, the document on completion of quarantine at concentrated medical facilities, and the document of COVID-19 treatment issued by field hospitals.

However, the seven types of documents above are not specified in the Law on Social Insurance, the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment and other relevant legal documents. There is yet to be a legal basis for the health ministry to issue the amendment to Circular 56.

The health ministry has sent a document to the Ministry of Justice and submitted a request to the Prime Minister for permission to do some legal procedures to ensure the amended circular is issued as quickly as possible to ensure timely settlement of benefits for people.

The health ministry has proposed two measures. The first option is to propose to the Government to recognise the seven documents above as eligible to request for sickness compensation.

The second option is to propose to the Government to allow the health minister to recognise the seven types of documents mentioned above as eligible to request for the benefits and include the format of the seven types of documents into the amendment to Circular 56.

It is also important to have close coordination between the social insurance, medical examination and treatment facilities and related agencies to quickly resolve the issue and ensure the rights of employees. — VNS