>> Expert calls for more gradual health fee hikes
>> Social insurance agency calls for health fee review
>> Higher fees at hospitals burden poor, uninsured
>> Poor local governments to increase health fees
Ten provinces are awaiting the go-ahead from their local People’s Councils to raise prices Aug. 1. Most are looking to charge 70-75 percent of the new amount allowed by the Ministries of Finance and Health, though that figure is as high as 93 percent and 95 percent in Khanh Hoa and Dong Thap, respectively.
The eight other provinces are Gia Lai, Hau Giang, Hoa Binh, Kon Tum, Kien Giang, Nghe An, Soc Trang, and Vinh Long.
Should they succeed, health insurance funds expect major budget gaps.
The agency in Nghe An Province, for instance, estimated it would have to overspend by VND93 billion (US$4.46 million) this year, and VND262 billion in 2013.
The agency also warned that direct costs to insured patients would go up 42 percent next year.
“Even people with health insurance cards will pay much more for health services than at present, because many new fees are set to increase 10 to 12 times,” Hoang Kim Thai, director of the Lao Cai Province Justice Department, said in a statement.
His department is reviewing the province’s new rates, most of which would affect the most common hospital services.
For example, sickbeds and ultrasounds in Nghe An Province would cost 89 percent of the ceiling. That means the price of sickbeds would jump to VND134,000 (US$6.4) per day, compared with VND18,000.
For emergency beds, the figure would rise to VND330,000 per day, just VND5,000 below the maximum rate.
In one of the most extreme increases, respirators would cost 67 times more than the current VND3,000, the Lao Cai Province Justice Department said.
Less common services would face less dramatic increases: For stitches and gangrene removal, hospitals in Nghe An would charge 38 percent and 27 percent of the respective maximum allowances.
Vietnam Social Insurance has asked all local authorities to reduce their new fees, which people fear exceed costs of living and the budgets of health insurance funds.