The Vietnam Federation on Disability and Irish Aid, the Irish Government’s programme for overseas development, held a dialogue on health insurance for people with disabilities in Hanoi on September 8.

Vietnam has an estimated 5.1 million people who live with disabilities, accounting for 6 percent of the total population. This number is forecast to not decrease in the near future.

The Law on Health Insurance came into force in 2008. However, only 70 percent of people with disabilities have used their health insurance to receive treatment. In addition, surveys show that many are dissatisfied with the medical services covered by insurance.

Participants in the dialogue attributed this to a shortage of qualified medical staff and appropriate equipment at local clinics, the limited choices of medication paid by health insurance, and lengthy procedures at healthcare facilities.

The revised Health Insurance Law, due to take effect on January 1, 2015, is expected to address the current shortcomings and guarantee the rights of beneficiaries are upheld.

Attendees said that in order to implement the revised law effectively, policy-makers need to improve all the associated mechanisms and enhance their communication efforts to increase public awareness of the issue.

State-run healthcare facilities should also improve their staff’s professional skills and awareness of disability issues, as well as update medical facilities and equipment, they noted.-VNA