A HIV patient receives antiretroviral (ARV) covered by health insurance fund at Hà Nội's Nam Từ Liêm District healthcare centre. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc
Việt Nam's health insurance fund started covering HIV patients for anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs in March this year after international donors ended their sponsorship. Lê Văn Phúc, head of the pharmacy and medical supply department at Việt Nam Social Security talks to Thời Báo Kinh Tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times).
What has been prepared to ensure health insurance coverage for HIV treatment expenses?
The health insurance fund along with other State budget sources have been contributing to ensuring HIV drug supplies.
The health insurance fund has so far covered HIV opportunistic infections and other testing for HIV patients who hold health insurance cards.
It is estimated that by the end of this year, about 48,000 HIV patients who hold health insurance cards will have their ARV drug covered by the fund.
The rest of the patients will be covered by 2020.
Việt Nam Social Security (VSS) has worked with the health ministry to sign healthcare contracts with HIV treatment facilities and set up a database to manage patients who are on ARV.
The VSS and the health ministry also provide ARV drugs to HIV treatment facilities.
The health insurance fund covers a first-class ARV treatment regimen.
It is estimated that more than VNĐ600 billion (US$25.5 million) is needed to provide treatment for more than 100,000 HIV/AIDS patients. What solutions should be taken to ensure health insurance coverage for them?
It is estimated to cost VNĐ6 million ($255) per year to provide healthcare check-ups and treatment for each HIV patient.
We need solutions to ensure the fund is capable of covering health insurance card holders including HIV patients.
We need to step up management on using the insurance fund in an effective way.
Quality and prices of drugs, management and use must be ensured.
We should make plans to adjust health insurance premiums and taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to contribute to the health insurance fund.
How are you planning to convince more HIV patients to sign up for the health insurance programme in order to ensure better treatment for them?
Việt Nam is now the only country mobilising domestic sources for HIV/AIDS treatment.
The VSS and the health ministry have created the most favourable conditions for HIV patients to access health insurance.
The number of HIV patients who hold health insurance card holders has increased. The coverage rate for HIV patients in many localities has reached 100 per cent.
However, the health insurance coverage rate in some localities remains low because patients are afraid of being discriminated against and do not want to reveal their personal information.
The VSS and the health ministry will step up communication campaigns on HIV and ARV patients to share the importance of health insurance.
We expect authorities will continue to improve HIV treatment service quality and create a friendly environment for HIV carriers by changing medical staff’s attitudes towards patients as well as their consultation and communication skills. VNS