Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – An addition of 500,000 people took out health insurance across Vietnam in the first two months of 2016, according to statistics of the Vietnam Social Security Agency.

In Ho Chi Minh City alone, 130,000 people registered for health insurance in January and February, soaring 13-fold from the equivalent period last year.

The wave was fuelled by a new policy on March 1 that raised hospital fees by between 30 and 50 percent, said Tran Dinh Lieu of the Vietnam Social Security.

Pham Luong Son, Head of the Health Insurance Policy Board under Vietnam Social Security , said health insurance spending is expected to expand by 50 percent this year in line with increasing hospital fees.

The revised Health Insurance Law stipulates that as from January 1, 2016, people with health insurance cards at district level can access checkups or treatments at any district-level health facility they want within their province, without requiring referral papers as before. They will also get full insurance cover for hospital expenses.

The cardholders will benefit greatly from the amended law, Son said, pointing to their guaranteed treatment at any district-level medical unit located outside their residing area, without the need of referral papers.

The law also allows patients to choose among these facilities for the best option that offers superior services, he noted.

Son said that the new conditions also require improved management.

For example, the current database systems have yet to be able to monitor a patient that uses medical services at different facilities within a day or week, which may lead to the misuse of the health insurance fund.

Statistics from Vietnam Social Security recorded no significant rise in the number of patients with health insurance for district-level hospitals in the last two months, as the new law took effect in conjunction with the lunar New Year holiday. However, a boom in the number of health insurance subscribers is forecast in the near future.-VNA