Vietnam hospital fees set for five-fold increase: health minister

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Fees for hundreds of medical services at public hospitals are expected to increase up to five times the current rates issued in 1995, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tuyen said at an online forum recently.

A circular on the modification of fees for 220 medical services is expected to be signed by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, she said at the forum held on the government website.

In 2010, the Health Ministry proposed to increase prices for 355 medical services. The proposal was rejected by the central government after it attracted wide critisism from the public and the Vietnam Social Insurance - which manages social and health insurance fund.

Under the new plan, fees for 70 percent of 220 services will increase by up to five times the current rate. For example, examination fees will increase from VND10,000 to VND20,000 at central hospitals. The same fee at communal medical stations will increase from VND1,000 to VND5,000.

Tien said the prices were being raised because of inflation and the fact that the basic salary in Vietnam has increased by 6.9 times over 1995. Per capita income has also increased to US$1,000 per year - more than two times over 1995, she said.

She said the fee increase is expected to improve the quality of medical services, facilities and doctors' diligence.

The Vietnam Social Insurance has paid about 60 percent of medical fees nationwide for many years now, has backed the proposal.

Pham Luong Son of Vietnam Social Insurance said the new plan is more practical because it is more detailed and based on hospitals at central, provincial, district and communal levels.

He said reimbursement is expected to increase by between VND6 trillion and VND7 trillion per year with the new plan. Thus, he said, they would consider  increasing health insurance fees by ten percent.

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