Vietnam delays health care cost hikes amid rising inflation

By    August 1, 2016 | 08:50 pm PT
Soaring prices of medicine and other medical services have pushed up inflation in the first half.

Vietnam will hold health care costs steady this month following concerns that raising them further will hit the pockets of consumers in the final months of this year, the government’s online newspaper cited Health Ministry official Nguyen Nam Lien as saying.

He added that health authorities and social welfare officials are still working on a detailed plan on when and how health care costs will go up.

When the price of a liter of petrol or a kilogram of rice rises, consumers can immediately feel the pinch. However, it seems less obvious to the public how increases in health care costs affect what they have left to spend on other goods.

Official statistics show the primary reason for the rise in health care costs is an increase in the price of drugs, hospital cars and other medical services.

Rising health care inflation is one of the main driving forces that have fuelled inflation this year.

Vietnam’s inflation rose in May to the highest increase in the past five years.

Soaring prices for medicine and other medical services have caused inflation in the first half of this year to rise by 0.86 percent, data showed.

Health care costs moved up for the first time this year in March when 1,400 state-run hospitals nationwide raised their fees. Authorities had planned to raise them further in June, but that has been put on hold for now, said Pham Luong Son, vice general director of Vietnam Social Welfare.

However, authorities will raise health care costs in the final months of this year in 10 cities and provinces where between 90 and 95 percent of the population is covered by state health insurance, Son added.

Vietnam also plans to increase health care costs in the first half of next year.

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