Over the last few years, health insurance has been a hot topic that has sparked heated debates in the media and in National Assembly sittings. The debates, for the most part, have centered over which policy benefits patients the most.
However, it has been forgotten by all stakeholders in general that health workers need some insurance as well. Not health insurance, but malpractice insurance.
Malpractice insurance, which covers all the costs in case a health worker is sued for malpractice, isn't widely known in Vietnam. The topic only surfaced recently when Ministry of Finance submitted to the government a draft decree on malpractice insurance in health examination and treatment.
The decree, slated to take effect as of the end of 2015 at the latest, is a wise move, given that Vietnam has lately seen more and more cases of alleged malpractice with claims of billions of dong.
Due to the absence of suitable legal regulations, most of the cases have so far been handled via negotiations. Doctors pay to avoid lawsuits and scandals, even though the mishaps are sometimes not their fault. Meanwhile, patients are most likely to accept compensation once they feel the offer is satisfactory, even though it is way cheaper than what they lost.
In other words, the negotiated compensation, both in its nature and amount, can be unfair to both parties.
More importantly, the insurance, once legalized, will give patients more benefits as well.
Dr. Dai Phi Van, former chief of Ho Chi Minh City Orthopedic Trauma Hospital's muscle and bone department, said that in developed countries, laws regulate that doctors have to buy malpractice insurance.
"In case of mishaps, doctors who have done wrong have to pay compensation; they aren't allowed to say that they will "˜learn from experience' as has happened in some cases in Vietnam."