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Vietnam’s health ministry delays hospital fee hike until 2016

Vietnam’s health ministry delays hospital fee hike until 2016

Monday, November 23, 2015, 17:18 GMT+7

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has decided to delay an increase in medical service fees at state-owned hospitals until next year instead of applying it on November 15 as previously planned for some 1,800 medical services, a health official has said.

Nguyen Nam Lien, head of the ministry’s Department of Finance and Planning, released the information at a press conference in Hanoi on Sunday.

Such a delay will give the ministry more time to modify the software to be used and provide training for healthcare facilities in applying new medicinal service prices, which are 2-5 times higher than current rates, Lien said.

The postponement will also create additional time for concerned agencies to encourage people to get themselves covered by health insurance before the hike is in place, the official said.

More than 10 provinces and cities now count less than 60 percent of their respective populations as insured, he added.

Meanwhile, the price rise is necessary because all expenses directly related to medical examination and treatment of patients as well as various allowances for health workers will now be calculated in the prices of some 1,800 medical services available at public hospitals, said Pham Luong Son, head of the Vietnam Insurance Agency’s department for health insurance policy implementation.

However, in total only 73 percent of the country’s population is covered by health insurance, which means about 25 million people are still paying hospital fees by themselves, Son said.

These uninsured people will be heavily affected by the upcoming increase in hospital fees, the second one since 2012, he added.

Under the plan for increasing medical service charges and bed fees at first-class and special hospitals will double to VND677,000 (US$30.1) per day in intensive care units, and to VND197,000-306,000 ($8.8-13.6) per day in other wards, the official said.

The cost of stomach flushing will rise from the current VND30,000 ($1.34) to VND106,000 ($4.75).

Examination fees will surge from VND20,000 ($0.9) to VND39,000 ($1.75) at first-class and special infirmaries, and from VND15,000 ($0.67) to VND37,000 ($1.65) at second-class hospitals.

At third and fourth-class hospitals, the examination will soar three times to VND32,000 ($1.43) and four times to VND30,000 respectively, Son said.

Meanwhile, the cost of surgery will go up by VND300,000-1.5 million ($13.4-67.2), said Lien, head of the ministry’s Department of Finance and Planning.

The new pricing scheme will also include salaries for doctors and wages for other health workers in the prices of medical services from March 2016, Lien said.

This means if a patient pays VND6 million ($267) for his medical treatment, VND350,000-400,000 ($15.6-17.8) of the amount will be used to cover wages for doctors and other health workers, he explained.

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