Examination and treatment costs at hospitals ranked the same in terms of facility quality and services provided will be standardised, under a joint circular soon to be released by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance.

Speaking at an event on January 13 where attendees could state their opinions on the plan, Deputy Health Minister Pham Le Tuan said costs of medical services differed between hospitals with the same rankings in the country because localities regulated their own prices.

Rankings are determined by professional skill levels, medical facilities and techniques used. The ministry found that, for example, some hospitals ranked Level 1 in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City had different costs from Level 1 hospitals in Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho, Tuan said.

Tuan said the shortcomings arose when city and provincial People's Councils individually implemented a law that regulated medical service costs.

However, a revised health insurance law that took effect in the beginning of 2015 should take care of the problems, Tuan said. The revised law says the health minister, with the help of the finance minister, must standardise medical service costs paid by health insurance funds.

Health insurance is compulsory for all, and aims to cover medical services for the entire population. It also means citizens have to buy health insurance cards, which will cover part or all of their medical costs, according to the revised law.

A draft of the joint circular states service costs for five levels of hospitals: Level 1 through Level 4 and Special Level. Currently, Bach Mai and Viet Duc are Special Level hospitals, and many district hospitals are Level 4.

The joint circular is scheduled to be completed and circulated in the second quarter of the year.-VNA