>> Poor local governments to increase health fees
>> Higher fees at hospitals burden poor, uninsured
>> Social insurance agency calls for health fee review
>> Patients burdened with hospital fee increase
>> Ministry proposes hike in hospital fees
For example, officials could introduce higher fees in intervals of three or six months, said Le Van Thanh, head of the Department of Cultural and Social Research under the HCMC Research and Development Institute.
“Such a move would not give a shock to the public, especially the poor,” Thanh said in an interview with Tuoi Tre.
He disagreed with arguments that the fee hikes would not affect people with health insurance. Current rules require the insured to foot 25 percent of total treatment costs, so when costs go up, so does the absolute amount they must pay. What’s more, insurance companies have been turning profits, but even they can’t keep up with the fee increases, Thanh said.
His remarks come as most cities and provinces are revising their fee tables based on ceiling rates issued by the Ministries of Health and Finance in February.
Thanh said the increases are necessary, but must take into account what’s affordable for all parties – the social insurance fund, insurance companies, and especially citizens.
“In other words, local authorities should see the poor as a focus in their calculations of new heath fees,” Thanh said.
Le Van Thanh, head of the Department of Cultural and Social Research: "Officials could introduce higher fees in intervals of three or six months."(Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Beyond ceiling rates
On July 10, Vietnam Social Insurance called on all cities and provinces to reassess their fee hikes, which some have criticized as outpacing the rising cost of living.
Soc Trang province went so far as to propose a sickbed fee that is 127 percent of the ceiling allowed by the ministries, while Son La province expects its prices to exceed the maximum by 13 percent.
Last week, Bac Ninh became the first province in the country to adopt new rates, equal to 84 percent of the ceiling. Most increases will take effect next month, though dozens of governing authorities are reviewing their plans at the request of Vietnam Social Insurance.