|Public hospital services and products in 16 provinces and cities have become 18 per cent more expensive since the middle of August, as patients pay for health staff’s basic salaries. — Photo giadinhvietnam.com|
HÀ NỘI — Public hospital services and products in 16 provinces and cities have become 18 per cent more expensive since the middle of August, as patients pay for health staff’s basic salaries.
Labour-intensive services such as check-ups, bed charges and surgeries, particularly those requiring up to eight medical workers for three or four hours, cost more now.
Deputy Minister of Health Phạm Lê Tuấn said the new tariff regime was for health insurance card-holders only and was being implemented in 16 localities where 85 per cent of the population have bought medical insurance.
However, special medical insurance card-holders such as poor people, children under six years of age, social welfare beneficiaries and national revolutionary contributors such as Vietnamese heroic mothers and soldiers would not be affected by the increased rates as they were subsidised wholly or mostly by the government, he said.
The localities are Lào Cai, Thái Nguyên, Điện Biên and Hà Giang, besides Bắc Kạn, Sơn La, Tuyên Quang and Cao Bằng, as well as Lai Châu, Yên Bái, Lạng Sơn and Hòa Bình, as also Đà Nẵng, Sóc Trăng, Thừa Thiên-Huế and Quảng Nam.
In March this year, public hospital fees were hiked by 30 per cent, with patients now having to pay for nearly 1,900 services and products that were earlier subsidised by the government, such as power and water, maintenance of equipment and waste treatment facilities and training and research.
When the first round of hikes took effect in March, the cost of a health check-up in first-class hospitals (national hospitals or major hospitals in cities/provinces/regions), for example, doubled to touch VNĐ40,000 (US$1.8).
Bed charges per day went up from VNĐ80,000 ($3.6) to VNĐ215,000 ($9.6).
The cost of stomach flushing rose to VNĐ106,000 ($4.7) from VNĐ30,000 ($1.3).
According to finance and health ministries, this year would see three more hospital fee hikes in other localities in the country.
The fee revision is aimed at ending government subsidies in hospitals and at gradual improvement of the quality of health services.
Phạm Lương Sơn, head of the Việt Nam Social Insurance Agency’s Health Insurance Policy Implementation Department, said the new prices would not apply to uninsured patients to give them time to buy insurance, but it would apply in the near future.
Uninsured patients would suffer the most with the rising prices, he said.
Around 71.1 million people, accounting for 77 per cent of Việt Nam’s population, had been covered by medical insurance as of the end of May. The country aims for 78.8 per cent coverage by the end of this year and 90 per cent by 2020. — VNS