|Cancer patients have their health check at the HCM City Oncology Hospital. The national Health Insurance Fund may decrease reimbursements for certain prescription drugs used to fight lung cancer. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HA NOI (VNS) — The national Health Insurance Fund may decrease reimbursements for certain prescription drugs if a Health Ministry draft circular goes into effect.
Instead of being provided with these drugs for free, patients would pay up to 50 per cent of the retail price.
Patients will pay over VND20 million (US$950) and VND18 million ($857) per month for Erlotinib and Gefitinib, drugs used to treat lung cancer. Sorafenib, a type of medicine to treat cell cancer, will cost nearly VND60 million (nearly $3,000) per month without the State subsidy.
Subsidies will also be reduced to 70 per cent for Peginterferon, a powerful antiviral drug treatment for chronic hepatitis B and C.
Tran Thi Den, a 53-year-old resident of northern Hoa Binh Province who is undergoing lung cancer treatment at Ha Noi's K Hospital, was very worried about the reduction.
"I now have to pay over VND10 million ($480) for one stage of treatment. If the subsidy is cut, I would rather die of cancer than force my family to face financial difficulties," said Den, who gets a pension of around VND3 million ($150) per month.
Director of the Health Insurance Department under the Ministry of Health Tong Thi Song Huong said that the State cut subsidies for only "newly used" drugs. There were still 57 types of drugs for cancer treatment subsidised fully by the State.
A representative from the Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency said that cancer treatment drugs accounted for a large percentage of insurance expenses. The fund paid a total of VND48 trillion ($2 billion) last year, 71 per cent more than in 2012. — VNS