Ninety percent of population to be covered by health insurance hinh anh 1A health insurance participant registers for a medical checkup in central Da Nang city (Source:VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The Government recently set a goal for 90 percent of the population to be covered by health insurance by 2020. Vietnam Economic Times talks with Nguyen Thi Minh, General Director of Vietnam Social Insurance.

* Health insurance coverage is an important index reflecting the success of the Government’s health insurance policy. Could you elaborate on this?

Health insurance is an important policy of the State and Government. It is considered a major pillar of the social welfare policy.

After more than seven years of implementing the health insurance policy, the percentage of people covered by insurance in 2010 was raised from 60 percent, equivalent to 52.4 million people, to 76.2 percent of the total population last year. It means the percentage increased by 2.2 percent annually, equal to 2.4 million people.

As of June this year, 77 percent of the total population was covered by health insurance.

Vietnam Social Insurance has pushed its branches in localities to take measures to reach the Government’s target of having 79 percent of the population covered by health insurance by the end of the year.

Notably, people’s awareness of health insurance has been positively changed. This is reflected by the increase in self-paid insurance buyers.

Recently, Vietnam Social Insurance submitted a proposal to the Government setting a target of having 90 percent of the population covered by health insurance by 2020.

* What accounts for the increase in insurance coverage? Have people been attracted by better healthcare services or a low insurance cost?

At present, the insurance cost in Vietnam is lower, but payments are much higher than many other countries in the region. The insurance buyers are being offered more than 18,000 types of healthcare services and about 20,000 medicines.

Annually, social insurance agencies pay thousands of billions of VND to insurance card holders.

The Law on Healthcare Insurance, which has just come into effect, has encouraged people to join the insurance programme and created favourable conditions for healthcare centres to further invest in modern equipment to provide better services to patients.

These actions made the people trust health insurance.

* Do you think the 90 percent target for health coverage is feasible? What will Vietnam Social Insurance do to achieve this target?

The target will be feasible if we carry out concrete measures to overcome current hurdles relating to mechanisms and implementation.

In terms of mechanisms, there are some hurdles relating to insurance eligibility for poor residents living on islands and coastal areas. The people were given insurance cards for the 2013-2015 period. But so far, they have not renewed the cards because they are waiting for the new policy.

The second group is related to the household insurance package.

However, to reach the goal, Vietnam Social Insurance has carried out several measures, including drawing out policies and incentives in accordance with specific localities.

Vietnam Social Insurance has opened more agencies to sell health insurance nationwide.

Administrative procedures to grant insurance cards have been simplified to encourage people to sign up for insurance.

We asked all hospitals to be computerised to fundamentally improve healthcare services. Connecting healthcare data with the verification information system is an important step towards complete computerisation.

In addition, we have also assigned the Ministry of Health to improve healthcare services and treatment procedures to encourage people to buy health insurance.-VNA