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Medical bills accumulate despite Vietnam’s rising insurance cover



Medical bills accumulate despite Vietnam's rising insurance cover

People line up to pay for their medical bills at a hospital. Photo by VnExpress/Van Cuong.

Vietnamese have to pay nearly half their own medical expenses, twice the rate recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Specifically, 43 percent of medical costs have to be personally covered, which is “quite high compared with many other countries,” Le Van Kham, head of the health insurance department under the Ministry of Health, told a Tuesday conference on healthcare.

The same rate in developed countries is often around 24 percent, he added.

Vietnamese on average go for medical checkups 2.1 times a year, spending an average $129 per person. Around 35-37 percent of the cost goes to medicine, according to the ministry.

While about 91 percent of Vietnamese have health insurance, they still have to cover around 43-44 percent of their medical bills, it added.

Such an amount places Vietnam above Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar regarding personal payments for medical costs, but still below Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

“By 2025, we want families to only have to cover less than 35 percent of their medical bills, and by 2030, less than 30 percent. However, it’s a big challenge and not much has changed in the past several years,” said Kham.

To pay less from their own pockets, Vietnamese should readjust their insurance contributions to cover more categories. Increased contributions could come from state-subsidized sources, business income or personal income. The current insurance contribution rate is 4.5 percent of one’s basic salary.

However, who should increase their insurance contributions and by how much should be considered beforehand, Kham stressed, adding hospital spending efficiency also needs to be taken into account. He said current health insurance schemes help patients pay for individual services, but that this could lead hospitals to intentionally provide patients with more services to obtain more insurance money.

Starting July, the Health Ministry would apply a new payment method, where inpatients would know how much they would have to pay for each of their diagnosis. That way, doctors could give patients the most appropriate and cost-efficient treatment plan, said Kham. Such a model is currently being tested in certain localities like Quang Ninh, Yen Bai and Can Tho with promising results, he said.

According to a WHO financial expert, Vietnam’s health insurance coverage a decade ago was only 50 percent, and its citizens have to pay around 49 percent of their medical bills out of their own pockets. While insurance cover has significantly increased since then to around 91 percent, the amount of money patients have to pay for medical services has not proportionately decreased as planned.

It means Vietnam’s health insurance fund has not been used effectively, and while raising insurance contributions could be a solution, it would be meaningless if the services they provide are not used appropriately, the expert stated.

Each year, Vietnam’s health insurance fund spends up to VND120 trillion ($5.2 billion) on average for diagnosis and treatment. Throughout the last four years, the fund has been decreasing, forcing the government to use another emergency fund to keep the system afloat. Right now, around VND35 trillion is left in the fund.



Trà Vinh expands forest coverage



Mangrove forest in Trà Vinh Province. – VNA/ Photo

TRÀ VINH – The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh plans to grow new forests from now to 2025, increasing the province’s total forest area to 10,000ha and reaching a forest coverage rate of 4.2 per cent.

To meet the targets, the province is providing funds to individuals, households and organisations responsible for growing new mangrove forests and protecting existing forests.

Individuals, households and organisations who grow new forests on an area of more than 0.3ha will receive no more than VNĐ37 million (US$1,600) per hectare to buy seedlings.

This is 4.5 times more than the financial assistance given previously.

Individuals and households responsible for protecting forests will be given VNĐ500,000 ($21) per hectare a year. The money will be provided for up to 15ha to individuals and 30ha to households.

Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the support policies aim to protect the environment and protect against the impact of high tides, rising sea levels, and erosion along the province’s 65km coastline.

These support activities have helped to create livelihoods for households, especially shrimp – forest farms, that have provided sustainable incomes in coastal areas.

The province has more than 9,160ha of forests, mostly mangrove forests, and a forest coverage rate of 3.63 per cent, according to the department.

Of the total forest area, more than 4,000ha are planted by households in the coastal districts of Duyên Hải, Cầu Ngang, Châu Thành, and Duyên Hải Town.

The households also breed black-tiger shrimp or other aquatic species in the 4,000ha of mangrove forests.  

The shrimp – forest farming model requires low investment cost, has a low risk of disease, is environmentally friendly, and is sustainably efficient.

Households that breed shrimp or other aquatic species in mangrove forests earn an average income of VNĐ70 million ($3,000) per hectare a year, according to the department.

Last year, the province turned nearly 3,800ha of protective forests into commercial forests to improve incomes for households who protect and exploit forest resources. 

The move was done to improve the management and protection of forests.

The province has sought donations at home and abroad to grow forests and train human resources for forest management and protection.

It has also encouraged the use of advanced techniques, including the use of digital forest data at all management levels. 

In 2015 – 20, the province’s coastal districts of Duyên Hải, Cầu Ngang, Châu Thành, and Duyên Hải Town planted a total 625ha of new forests.

The province’s People’s Committee has zoned a total area of 23,984ha for forest development. –


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Four returnees diagnosed with Covid-19



Medical workers of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi take care of a Covid-19 patient. The Ministry of Health has reported four new imported Covid-19 cases – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – The Ministry of Health has confirmed four fresh imported Covid-19 cases, including one in Kien Giang and three in Khanh Hoa, taking the country’s Covid-19 tally to 2,737 as of this morning, April 15.

Specifically, the case in Kien Giang is a 25-year-old man residing in Duong Kinh District, Haiphong City. On April 10, he entered Vietnam through the Ha Tien international border gate in Kien Giang and was quarantined in the province.

On April 13, he tested positive for Covid-19 and is being treated at the medical center of Ha Tien City.

The remaining patients include a woman and two men, aged 27, 32 and 26, respectively. The woman is a resident of Thua Thien-Hue Province, while the two men are from Ha Tinh Province.

They flew back to Vietnam from Japan through the Cam Ranh International Airport in Khanh Hoa on April 11 and were quarantined in the province. The three tested positive for Covid-19 on April 14 and are receiving treatment at the Khanh Hoa Hospital for Tropical Diseases.


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Breakfast @ Tien Phong News — April 15



Read what is in the news today:

COVID-19 Updates

— Vietnam reported 20 imported cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, raising the national tally to 2,737 patients, with 2,445 recoveries and 35 virus-related deaths, according to the Ministry of Health

— Ho Chi Minh City medical authorities said on Wednesday that the city had yet to receive the protocol of ‘vaccine passports,’ which are COVID-19 vaccination certificates to be granted for international visitors and stranded Vietnamese to enter the country, from the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.


— It is forecast to rain in the evening from Friday to April 23 in the southern Vietnamese region, according to the National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting.

— More than 14 metric tons of fish died en masse due to an unknown reason on the section of the Ma River passing through Cam Thuy District in the north-central Vietnamese province of Thanh Hoa on Wednesday.

— Police in Ho Chi Minh City said on Wednesday that they had recently arrested a group of seven people for staging motorbike accidents on the streets to steal properties from commuters.

— One student has been successfully rescued from drowning while two others remain missing after a group of nine students went swimming at a local river in northern Phu Tho Province on Wednesday afternoon.

— An eighth-grade student critically knifed a seventh grader after being reprimanded by their school administrators for hitting the latter in southern Vinh Long Province on Wednesday afternoon.

— Two workers were dead and another was injured after a personnel lift overturned at a shipbuilding company in central Quang Ngai Province on Wednesday morning.


— The 2021 Vietnam International Trade Fair (Vietnam Expo), the 30th edition of its kind, opened at the Hanoi International Exhibition Center on Wednesday.

— E-stamping, a computer-based application with product information that can be retrieved on state agencies’ websites, must be used for imported tobacco and alcohol products from July 2022, according to the Ministry of Finance’s new instruction.

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