Health ministry may walk back service fee increase
The Ministry of Health plans to halt a planned increase of medical service fees if the consumer price index (CPI) increases in 2019, the Vietnam News Agency has reported.
|Patients pay treatment expenses at Nghe An Province’s Northwestern Hospital. – VNA/VNS Photo|
Nguyen Nam Lien, head of MoH’s Department of Financial Planning, said on Tuesday that in 2019, healthcare costs would be calculated based on the increased basic salary of VND1.49 million (US$64) and management expenses of medical facilities.
“However, the change will be based on CPI and socio-economic factors. If this year’s conditions are not favourable, the ministry will report to the Prime Minister to adjust in 2020. Prices for medical services including depreciation expenses will be applied in 2021,” he said.
At present, healthcare prices are calculated based on a basic monthly salary of VND1.39 million ($59) and direct costs for examination and treatment.
Earlier, the MoH issued a circular on payments for healthcare services. Under the circular, fees for more than 1,900 healthcare services for insured patients were raised from 3 per cent to more than 11 per cent at all health facilities in the country on December 15, 2018.
The circular regulates the pricing solution which calculates examination and treatment costs as well as hospitals’ plans to reinvest.
The fees were previously calculated based on the basic salary in 2013 of VND1.15 million ($49).
After the salary was raised in July, 2018 to VND1.39 million, the MoH proposed increasing the fees to cover salaries for medical staff.
Hospital fees, which also go toward management costs, will depend on the balance of the health insurance fund, meaning they could rise or fall each year.
In another development, up to 83 per cent of patients are satisfied with services provided at medical facilities, according to a survey by the MoH of 53 central, provincial and university hospitals in 2018.
Meanwhile, 71 per cent of some 66,000 calls to the ministry’s hotline from 2016 to 2018 were to complain about hospital infrastructure.
To improve patient satisfaction, MoH has issued circulars aiming to shorten the process of medical examination and treatment, improve performance of medical staff and help patients when they encounter difficulties in hospitals.