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Adjustment on medical expenses required

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Although inpatient room costs have increased sharply, medical quality remains stagnant, according to the latest report by Viet Nam Social Insurance (VSI).

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Treatment costs remain unreasonable compared with the quality of medical care. —  Photo Bich Ngoc

The data collected in the three provinces of Bac Ninh, An Giang and Ha Giang shows that among 52 surveyed inpatient rooms, only 13 had air conditioners, 11 had dehumidifiers and four had ventilators. Meanwhile, the cost for those appliances is included in the inpatient room charge for all rooms, even when they don’t have the appliances. 

Based on type of room, the average cost per inpatient day may range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dong.

PVB, 32, in HCM City received a surgery for kidney stones at University Medical Centre HCMC. He told Tuoi tre (Youth) Newspaper that he had paid VND1.4 million (US$61.6) for an inpatient day. The total cost of medicines and other medical services was VND22 million (US$970).

“Having a laparoscopy, I only needed to stay at the hospital for one day. If I stayed there for a week or ten days, the cost for the inpatient room would be multiplied. I had to pay all the costs on my own as I do not join social insurance. Although the medical service was good, the cost was a real burden for me,” he said.

C in Phu Nhuan District said that she paid VND20 million ($880) for her father’s one-month treatment in HCM City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion including the inpatient room at the cost of VND14 million ($616).

“It is acceptable to pay the huge amount of money on medicines and medical services rather than the inpatient room. I know we cannot ask for a high-quality room at a cheap price but the hospital can place more beds in one room to reduce the cost for patients,” she said.

A survey by conducted by Tuoi tre Newspaper in Thanh Hoa Province in 2017 indicated that the inpatient room charge accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of the treatment cost. The percentage in Nghe An Province is 22 per cent. According to VSI, in 2017, the cost for inpatient room increased to VND14,464 billion ($636 million) compared with VND8,774 billion ($386 million) in 2016. At some medical facilities, the impatient room cost is twice as high as the medicine cost.

Le Van Phuc, deputy head of VSI’s Department for Health Insurance Policy, said that the Circular No.37 on the adjustment of medical services price issued in 2015 included allowances for surgeons, appliances and other costs in the treatment cost. Moreover, it is regulated to have 1.34 medical workers taking care of a patient. However, several hospitals cannot adapt to those requirements while medical expenses are still increasing.

Therefore, patients and the social insurance fund are suffering from the pricing policy. Phuc asked hospitals to equip the rooms with enough appliances for patients to enjoy medical services commensurate with the amount of money they spent.

“I think patients have to receive quality medical services, demonstrated through medical facilities, appliances in inpatient rooms and utilities,” he said. 

Source: VietNamNet

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