Vietnam to tighten control over treatment regimens as health insurance deficits mount

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Vietnam's social health insurance funds are running a deficit and officials are blaming doctors for prescribing unnecessarily expensive treatments.

Official statistics show that Ho Chi Minh City had the largest shortfall in the country last year. The city's social insurance premiums reached VND3 trillion (US$144 million), but it recorded an overspending of more than VND300 billion.

In the first three months, the deficit rose by more than VND10 billion.

According to the Vietnam Social Insurance, which manages health insurance funds in the country, excessive prescriptions by local doctors are rampant.

In many cases, similar antibiotics are prescribed for the same patient and the use of unimportant supplements is also widespread, it said.

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said doctors should be careful about treatment costs so that social insurance funds can have enough money for payouts.

She said health officials will review the list of drugs covered by insurance plans to prevent the use of treatments that are too expensive.

Standard treatment regimens for all medical conditions will be announced, she said.

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The government's health insurance scheme aims to increase the number of policy holders from 64 percent of the population last year to 75 percent in 2015 and 90 percent in 2020.

It offers full premium subsidies for poor and ethnic minority residents while students can get a subsidy of least 30 percent.

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