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Students unable to afford subsidised health insurance

Update: December, 12/2012 - 10:24

HA NOI (VNS)— About 20 per cent of the 13 million university and college students in Viet Nam don't have compulsory health insurance, says the Health Insurance Department.

This was despite the State paying 30 per cent of the cost and the student only paying VND264,400 (US$12.5)at present, said Pham Luong Son, of the Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency.

The ministry has proposed the Government to pay 50 per cent of the cost of health insurance instead of 30 per cent.

The insurance is recognised at contracted health clinics and private hospitals at grassroots and district levels and gives access to high-tech medical treatment at a low cost when needed, he said.

In northern mountainous Yen Bai Province 38,900 students, accounting for 90 per cent of the total, had insurance cards, with the State paying 70 per cent of the total for those on the poverty line with an income of VND401,000 ($19) per head per month.

In southern Dong Nai Province, only 59 per cent of 487,000 students had health insurance cards.

Provincial Social Insurance Office deputy director Pham Minh Thanh said parents must pay many education fees so some delayed those that were non-urgent. Lack of knowledge also made parents doubt check-up and treatment quality through health insurance cards.

Nguyen Khanh Long, a third-year student at the Ha Noi-based University of Theatre and Cinematography, said he and other classmates refused to pay for health insurance because "it brings us nothing."

"I had to pay a lot of money for private hospitals because the hospital that I got the card for was full of people and the procedures took a long time," Long said.

He had joined the service two years ago but had stopped paying.

Some experts said insurance procedures should be simplified to encourage more students to buy health insurance and the education sector should educate students on the benefits.

Viet Nam has targeted full health insurance coverage for the entire population by 2014.

Currently, about 30 per cent of the population don't have health insurance, mostly are farmers, students, immigrant workers and those living near the poverty line.

Southern Dong Nai Province Social Insurance Office deputy director Pham Quoc Tuan said that in 2011 and the first six months of this year, the province had spent VND13 billion ($624,000) from the health insurance fund to cover health care services for 101,200 students. — VNS

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