Based on a price schedule set by the Ministries of Health and Finance, the people’s councils rubber-stamped the rate changes despite warnings that they would drive public health insurance agencies into deficits worth billions of dong (VND1 billion = US$48,000).
The decisions also seem to defy a request by Vietnam Social Insurance that provincial and municipal governments recalculate their fees to suit local socioeconomic conditions.
Of the 33 localities, four OK’d fees that are more than 90 percent of the ceiling allowed by the schedule. Five OK’d fees in the 80 to 90 percent range, and the remaining 24 fell under the 75 percent mark.
The schedule, which covers 447 health services, said most prices would rise 2 to 10 times current costs, but some would jump 20 times.
For example, the fee for a general or specialist examination will increase to VND20,000 (US$0.96) from VND3,000, while natal delivery costs will soar as high as VND525,000, compared with VND50,000 to VND150,000 now.
According to the schedule, the new rates are lower than those proposed by the Health Ministry in September.