The health sector will focus on improving the quality of medical services and benefits for insured patients.

These are part of the sector’s efforts to increase the country’s health insurance coverage to 75 percent by 2015 and 80 percent by 2020.

Speaking at a meeting in Hanoi on June 26 to mark the Vietnam Health Insurance Day which falls on July 1, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said that positive changes in the revised health insurance law that was adopted by the National Assembly on June 13, would be important steps to achieve the goal of health insurance for all.

“Changing from voluntary to compulsory payments would help in handling the shortcomings in the current health insurance policies and in increasing the health insurance coverage of the population,” she said.

The insured patient’s benefits would be improved by efforts to simplify the health insurance procedures and by upgrading the examination and treatment services, especially for the poor, ethnic and minority people or those living on islands and in difficult areas, according to the minister.

Tien said that the country still faces many challenges such as access to medical services and the quality of check-up and treatment, which need to be resolved for meeting the increasing demand for healthcare. More than 30 percent of the population is not covered by medical insurance, and the inadequate awareness of people regarding health insurance laws and regulations were also problems in achieving universal health insurance coverage.

The ministry’ statistics shows that the number of medically insured people increased by 15 million after five years of implementation of the health insurance law. The country had 61.7 million medically insured people, totalling nearly 70 percent of the country’s population by end of 2013.

The health insurance fund has paid more than 42 trillion VND (2 billion USD for examination and treatment during 131 million visits by insured patents in 2013, compared to more than 19 trillion VND (900 million USD) during 102 millions visits by insured patients in 2010.-VNA