The Government has targeted over 90 percent of nationwide population covered with health insurance by 2020 (Photo: hanoimoi.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Government has targeted over 90 percent of nationwide population covered with health insurance by 2020. Despite preferential policies to encourage citizens to buy health insurance, the number of health insurance card holders, especially household health insurance, remains low due to red tape.

Without health insurance, Hoang Thi Yen, renting a house in HCM City’s District 2, had to pay over 60 million VND (2,700 USD) for leg surgery, Tin Tuc (News) reported.

“To buy household health insurance, I have to bring the family register book of my landlord and all health insurance cards of the family members to the ward authority. Then I have to register for temporary residence. However, my landlord’s family has yet to buy health insurance cards so I cannot buy it,” she said.

Prolonged waiting time is another challenge for health insurance card holders.

Tran Thi Bon from Thu Duc District in HCM City, said “I have to wait for the whole day for each health check-up.”

Getting bored of waiting, she decided to buy a health check-up service without health insurance.

To increase public access to health insurance and to meet the above target, Ha Van Thuy, Deputy Head of the Health Insurance Department under the Health Ministry, said that the ministry has issued a set of hospital quality criteria which place patients at the centre of hospital services.

Health insurance covers almost 80 percent of Vietnam’s population now.

According to Nguyen Tan Binh, Director of the HCM City Health Department, the city’s healthcare sector has worked with the city’s health insurance to cut down unnecessary procedures so as to improve healthcare examination and treatment but still ensure quality.

The waiting time of patients to see a doctor has been cut from 120-480 minutes to 30-120 minutes.

According to Tin Tuc newspaper, hospitals in HCM City have bought state-of-the-art technology to better serve patients. Eighteen hospitals in the city have newly installed health check-up booking via a hotline. “We are looking forward to smart health insurance cards (electronic) to replace current paper cards,” Binh said.

Cho Ray Hospital, Gia Dinh Nhan Dan Hospital and the hospital of Thu Duc District in HCM City have installed automatic queue ticket dispenser machines and have staff to instruct patients at health check-up rooms.

According to Doctor Nguyen Minh Quan, Director of Thu Duc District hospital, to reduce waiting time, prescriptions are typed out on computers. Also, the doctors’ consultation time for patients is longer.

In addition, the health insurance sector made amendments to the health insurance regulations to provide card holders with additional benefits, Thuy said.

Accordingly, low-income card holders will enjoy 95 to 100 percent of health insurance. Near-poor people will have coverage of 80 to 95 percent.

Since January 1 this year, new regulations state that patients who register for health insurance cards at a ward-level medical clinic can enjoy health insurance benefits at any district clinic or hospital in the country.

Under household health insurance, the first card holder of the household will have to pay 100 percent of the insurance cost. The second one has to pay 70 percent. The third, fourth and fifth card holders have to pay 60, 50 and 40 percent, respectively.

Household health insurance will cover 80 percent of hospital fees for health examination or hospital beds. In case of serious diseases and high treatment cost, the health insurance will cover 50 to 75 percent of expenses.-VNA