According to the World Bank, Vietnam has made great strides in expanding health insurance coverage. The increase of participation and budget allocation for health insurance has reduced poverty, sustained economic growth and ensured social equality and progress.
By the end of 2014, 71.6% of Vietnam’s population had health insurance, 1.6% higher than the government’s target. 18 out of 63 cities and provinces surpassed the set target, 90% of the population in 7 northern mountain provinces and Da Nang has health insurance. The Health Insurance Fund covers 100% of hospital fees for poor and ethnic minority people living in disadvantaged areas.
Universal health insurance promotes social equality
Of the 2.6 billion USD worth of health insurance in 2014, 1 billion USD was allocated from the State Budget to help the poor, the near- poor and social beneficiaries. High-quality medicines and health services approved by the Ministry of Health are paid for insurance. According to the Ministry of Health, Vietnam is one of the few countries that pays most of hospital fees for cancer patients, and social beneficiaries. Poor and near- poor people are supported for up to 80% of their hospital fees. Farmers and fishermen living in average living conditions are supported for 30% of their insurance fees by the State. At a recent conference on implementation of the Law on Health Insurance and the Project on Ensuring Health Insurance for all in the 2012-2015 period and with a view toward 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that the project aims to ensure equal health treatment for all, thus promoting social equality. He asked all relevant sectors and localities to accelerate the project: “We must be determined to achieve the set target of providing 75% of the population with health insurance by 2015 and 80% by 2020. We also need to focus on improving the quality of health care, treatment and services, reducing hospital fees and expanding beneficiaries of health insurance. This job is of special importance because it concerns people’s lives”.
Determined to expand universal health insurance
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that the entire political system made a great effort to ensure that 71% of the population have health insurance and increase the value of health insurance from 1.5% to 4.5% of the minimum wage. As a result, even poor people can receive high-quality health treatment. The Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Health to review and revise legal documents to give the public access to health insurance. The Prime Minister asked localities to encourage those who receive 70% or 30% state health insurance support to contribute the rest to benefit from health insurance. The Prime Minister said: “Party committees, administrations and organizations should be more aware of their responsibility to ensure health insurance for all. For example, the Farmers’ Association should increase awareness about health insurance and even serve as health insurance agents. The Farmers’ and Women’s Associations have effectively contributed to getting credits for the poor and for their members. In this regard, social organizations should work on plans to encourage the public to buy health insurance”.
The Law on Health Insurance that took effect on January 1, 2015 promises practical benefits for the public, especially health insurance participants and poor and ethnic minority people. Pham Luong Son is Head of the Health Insurance Policy Department of the state-run Vietnam Social Insurance agency: “The Supplement Law to the revised Law on Health Insurance brings more benefits to poor and ethnic minority people because 100% of hospital fees will be paid by health insurance. Poor and ethnic minority people in disadvantaged areas will also be paid for treatment at both local and central hospitals”.
The Prime Minister asked ministries, sectors and localities to exert greater effort to ensure the progress of the universal health insurance project. He said the government will issue a directive this month guiding this process.