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Solutions to increase health insurance coverage in Vietnam

By Ngoc Diem   April 19, 2022 | 11:00 pm PT
Financial constraints are one of the reasons why Vietnamese have restricted access to health care services, especially for chronic diseases that require long-term treatment.

A scientific seminar "Towards ensuring a financial mechanism for people's health care in Vietnam" was hosted by The Health Economic Research and Assessment Center (HERAC) of Vietnam Medical Association on March 12.

According to experts, Vietnam is currently classified as a middle-income country, with a GDP per capita of $2,800 and an annual health expenditure per capita of $151.

Financial constraints are one of the reasons why Vietnamese have restricted access to health care, especially for chronic disorders that require long-term or lifelong treatment, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and high-cost cancer medicines.

Vietnam is on track to achieve universal health care by 2025, with 95 percent of the population covered by health insurance, providing the foundation for a long-term health system capable of reaching universal coverage and other health-related sustainable development targets.

To reach this goal, synchronous solutions involving public and private partners may be necessary, allowing for the development of sustainable payment methods that take into account the income of the population, affordability of the health insurance fund, and the country's economic development infrastructure.

Participants at the seminar Towards ensuring a financial mechanism for people’s health care in Vietnam. Photo by Novartis

Participants at the seminar "Towards ensuring a financial mechanism for people’s health care in Vietnam". Photo by Novartis

Dr. Dang Viet Hung, director of Health Insurance Department under the Ministry of Health, said that nowadays, social health insurance includes not only insurance but also welfare, serving as a safety net for all Vietnamese. The Health Insurance Fund is also included in the prime minister's instruction to assist in macroeconomic management.

"We are encouraging additional health financing for social health insurance in a variety of forms and solutions including direct support for employers; supplementary health insurance based on social health insurance; health insurance, or private insurance regulated by market regulations and subject to insurance business law; insurance packages, other management care; cumulative personal financial insurance," said Hung.

Dr. Dang Viet Hung, director of Health Insurance Department, MoH. Photo by Novartis

Dr. Dang Viet Hung, director of Health Insurance Department, MoH. Photo by Novartis

Dr. Nguyen Khanh Phuong, Institute of Health Strategy and Policy, Ministry of Health, proposed strengthening the link between social and commercial health insurance based on international experience, concretizing the goal of increasing health insurance coverage for the entire population.

Phuong evaluated the connection potential by exchanging and connecting data between health insurance participants, and health insurance medical facilities; developing supplementary health insurance (additional benefits in terms of expenses and services), and assisting and sharing experience in health insurance pricing and assessment.

Rachel O'Neale, CEO of Pharmaceutical Organization Head, Novartis Vietnam, said that Novartis employs science, technology, and innovation to save and improve lives with the vision of reimagining medicines.

"We are dedicated to working with the Vietnamese government and health facilities to find solutions that improve patients' affordability," O'Neale added.

The seminar "Towards ensuring a financial mechanism for people's health care in Vietnam" is a forum for experts, researchers in health finance, health insurance, and hospitals to share their knowledge and ideas.

The seminar was attended by over 100 medical experts to find solutions to the issues associated with maximizing financial solutions, particularly the ability to integrate public and private health insurance into universal health care.

This is a part of seminar series on medical financing and the application of medical technology assessment in health policy planning that HERAC expects to host throughout 2022 with the sponsorship of Novartis Vietnam and others.

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