As many as 81.7 percent of the population join health care insurance (Illustrative image. Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - The percentage of Vietnamese citizens with health care insurance has risen dramatically, reaching 81.7 percent as of last year thanks to new regulations in the Health Insurance Law, said Minister of Heath Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

“This proves that the legal regulations are practical and effective measures to reach the target of universal health care,” she said at meeting of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee on March 1.

The meeting--attended by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam--featured remarks by the minister and general director of Vietnam Social Insurance to explain a roadmap toward providing healthcare services for insurance card holders.

The new regulation, which allows insurance card holders to go to any clinic or hospital, has helped to ensure benefits of card holders and generate motivations for hospitals and clinics to improve their services as well, the minister said.

According to the minister, since implementing the Government Decree on giving self-dependence to hospitals and clinics, card holders, especially poor people and ethnic minorities, have benefited from the lower cost of check-up services and treatment.

In 2015, 130 million card holders received health care service, reaching a rate of 1.85 times per person per year. Last year, the respective figures were 148 million and 1.89, she said.

“The rate matched the healthcare demand,” the minister told the meeting.

These numbers showed that the new regulation did not make any unpredictable change to hospitals and clinics, she said.

Agreeing with the minister, Nguyen Thi Minh, General Director of Vietnam Social Insurance, said, “The regulation has a right policy that made positive impacts to both patients and healthcare entities as well as help to develop the country’s health insurance policy”.

“The regulation created favourable conditions for card holders to access to the best healthcare services,” she said.

Besides, the regulation has also been comfortable for card holders who are migrants or usually move to many places.

Under the regulations, card holders living in remote areas or islands can be given treatments in provincial or central-level hospitals without hospital transfer decisions by the grassroots-level clinics as before, Minh said.

The healthcare service entities must improve their services to attract clients, according to Minh.

However, there were still shortcomings, Minh said.

Many district-level hospitals and clinics have not met quality requirements to host a large quantity of patients.

Moreover, there has been some unhealthy competition among health care entities, especially private clinics which attracted patients.

In terms of health insurance fund, the minister affirmed that the fund always strikes a good balance.

“Only in 2016, the fund was over-expensed due to adjustment of healthcare service prices”, she said.

However, the over-expenditure was forecasted and the reserve fund was 49 trillion VND (2.2 billion USD).

Thus, the insurance fund balance has still ensured to meet the card holders’ healthcare demand and do not need to increase the insurance fees in short term, Minh said.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam said that the ministry must have measures to solve shortcomings and further enhance preventive healthcare services at grassroots-level entities.

The ministry, Social Insurance and other relevant offices should speed up their individual medical management system plan and universal insurance policy, said Dam.-VNA