Health insurance - lifebuoy for the poor with fatal diseases

(VOVWORLD) - Poor people who become seriously ill can be wiped out by treatment costs. Health insurance is a lifebuoy for them and their families.
Health insurance - lifebuoy for the poor with fatal diseases - ảnh 1 More than 85 million people in Vietnam sign up for health insurance. (Photo: VOV)

Patients in the Hematology Department of Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City often have long periods of stay and hundreds of dollars in hospital fees.

30-year-old Danh Van, a teacher from Kien Giang province, suffers from haemophilia and must undergo frequent treatment.

Van recently broke his leg and was brought to Cho Ray Hospital to save his leg from amputation. After an operation and blood transfusion, Van developed complications. It took multiple inverventions for the doctors to keep him from dying.

His prolonged treatment cost more than 430,000 USD, 80% of which was paid by his health insurance.

This month Van was hospitalized again after another accident. This time, the treatment cost has been 43,000 USD.

“I’m getting better. The treatment cost has been very high, but my health insurance has paid it all. Without insurance, it would have been impossible for me to afford treatment,”  said Van.

Doctor Hoang Thi Thuy Ha, Deputy Head of the Hematology Department, told VOV about a hemophilia patient named Phan Huu Nghiem who underwent surgery to remove abdominal tumors and needed a transfusion of coagulation factors.

Ha said Nghiem was lucky that all treatment costs were covered by his health insurance, adding, “Over the years Nghiem has had about 20 minor or major surgeries. His treatment costs are huge.”

Every month, the Social Welfare Section of Cho Ray Hospital receives more than 100 requests for hospital fee waivers from poor people. Many of them don’t have health insurance.

In the past three years, the section has requested more than 200 free health insurance cards for people in extremely difficult circumstances so they can be treated.

Le Minh Hien, the section’s head, said, “The hospital’s medical insurance policy has changed to benefit the patients. We persuade those who are in extremely difficult circumstances to buy health  insurance and pay them back later.”

More than 85 million people in Vietnam have signed up for health insurance. Ho Chi Minh City alone has 7.5 million insured people.

Phan Van Men, Director of the municipal Social Insurance, says that by the end of this year, the number of health insurance participants will reach 8.1 million, bringing the coverage to more than 90%.

“We will step up our promotion of medical insurance to local people. This year we’ll ask all school pupils and students to buy health insurance cards,” said Men.

To get the poor to participate in health insurance, Ho Chi Minh City subsidizes 30% of the cost for poor or near-poor households. Last year the city spent more than 1 million USD on these subsidies.