MEKONG DELTA — Cities and provinces in the Mekong Delta have approved new public hospital tariffs with huge increases in most fees that have come in for sharp criticism.
Hau Giang Province, for instance, has allowed hospitals to triple current fees to an average of 62 per cent of the maximum set by the ministries of Health and Finance.
In Soc Trang province, it goes up to 75 per cent, and in Kien Giang and Long An Provinces and Can Tho city, to 70 per cent.
In Long An, the rent for a bed in an Intensive Care Unit goes up 29 times – from VND12,000 to VND335,000 per day.
Poor patients are not amused.
Thach Sen of Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province, who has been suffering from nephritis for many years, said: "I am very worried after hearing about the increase in hospital fees. My family has to spend around VND3 million a month for my treatment. The increase will be not less than VND2 million."
Nguyen Thi Lanh, mother of a young patient at Can Tho General Hospital, said: "I have to pay several hundred thousand dong a day. If the fees increase, I must keep my child at home and give him traditional medicine."
Le Van Phuc, head of the Health Insurance Department, said high hospital fees in poor provinces could have an adverse effect on health.
"The 35 to 40 per cent of people in the country without health insurance coverage will be strongly affected by the increase in fees.
"Even those with coverage have to suffer given that they have to pay 5 to 20 per cent of diagnosis and treatment costs."
He also warned that this scramble by provinces and cities to increase the fees would pose a burden on health insurance besides sending patients flocking to city hospitals, causing an overload there.
The department has instructed its local offices to complain to people's committees about the unreasonable increase, he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Insurance has called on leaders of 20 provinces and cities to consider suitable hospital tariffs based on local socio-economic conditions. — VNS