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Hiked medical costs not in effect from June

Update: May, 16/2017 - 15:00
Staff handle payment procedures at the Pediatrics Faculty at the Bạch Mai Hospital - one of the country’s largest - in Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Thái Hà
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The health ministry on Monday announced that the revised hospital and medical services rates for uninsured citizens will not come into effect in all hospitals across the country in June.

Previously, the ministry had issued a circular that people without health insurance or insured citizens who have opted for out-of-pocket payment would have to pay the full, non-subsidised cost of treatments, starting from June.

As per the new roadmap for revised rates, 29 provinces and Hà Nội will enforce the hiked rates from this August, 14 other provinces and HCM City will implement it from October, and the remaining 18 provinces from December.

The information was made public during a conference held on Monday in HCM City on the implementation of Circular 02/2017/TT-BYT regarding the ceiling costs for 1,912 medical services not covered by government-sponsored health insurance.

Assistant Professor and Deputy Minister of Health Phạm Lê Tuấn said that up to now, the state was providing reverse subsidy, that is, it was giving price cuts even to people with financial means who choose not to enrol in the national health insurance programme, and therefore “the full cost calculation for these people must be carried out first”.

The circular, he said, is aimed at expanding healthcare coverage to the remaining 20 per cent of the country’s population that is still without insurance. “Enrolment in the health insurance programme shows social responsibility and helps ensure social security,” Tuấn said.

Nguyễn Nam Liên, director of the ministry’s department of finance and planning, explained that there are four factors in the calculation of cost of medical services: direct costs, staff salary, management costs, and asset depreciation expenses. The ministry plans to account for both direct costs and the staff salary in the price of medical services in 2016, adding in management costs from 2018; by 2020, uninsured patients will shoulder all four costs.

Liên said that the medical services rates listed in the circular are the ceiling prices. Provinces can choose to implement a lower pricing scheme, but “the ceiling costs are recommended to ensure equality between the insured and the uninsured”.

Under the health ministry’s circular, the medical examination fees, in-patient charges, testing fees and fees for other hospital services are expected to increase by 2-4 times depending on the levels of hospitals where patients undergo treatment. — VNS

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