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Covid patients struggle to get documents to make social insurance claim

By Quynh Nguyen   March 12, 2022 | 11:32 pm PT
Her local ward medical center told Minh Anh to wait longer for certificates stating she treated her Covid-19 at home when she visited the place for a third time.

On Feb. 23 the resident of Cau Giay District in Hanoi tested negative for Covid after seven days of home treatment.

The 30-year-old had spent nearly VND3 million for testing and medicines, and her company's HR department advised her to make a claim from social insurance. For this, she needs local officials to certify she was sick and treated herself.

The Law on Social Insurance provides that an employee who falls ill and must temporarily leave work is entitled to a subsidy equal to 75 percent of the salary paid for social insurance in the preceding month. But their health examination results must be issued by a competent medical examination and treatment facility.

Anh expects to receive nearly VND1.1 ($48.16) million, not much, but "better than not getting any money back".

She has obtained all the other documents necessary and only needs a sick leave certificate to make the insurance claim.

When she went to the ward health station to apply for a sick leave certificate, she was told to submit the application by email and wait for a response.

But she has not even received an acknowledgment. When she went to the center to inquire, she was merely told to keep waiting.

She is now worried she might not get her money.

According to a representative of the Yen Hoa Ward health station, the delay in paperwork is because there are many Covid patients who need to be taken care of, health stations are understaffed and personnel there have also been infected.

"We will surely take care of everyone's requests. But it will take time".

Hanoians queue up in front a local ward medical center in Hoang Mai District to get Covid recovery and other documents needed to apply for social security, Feb. 28, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu

Hanoians queue up in front of a ward medical center in Hoang Mai District to get Covid recovery and other certificates needed to make social security claims on Feb. 28, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu

Duc Hung, 29, also of Cau Giay District contracted Covid on Feb. 7 and was cured a week later. But unlike Anh, he has not even received the certificate saying he has completed home quarantine.

"Since the time I got infected I have made dozens of phone calls to ask for a certificate," he said.

According to many people who had Covid, making a social insurance claim involves tortuous procedures, causing them to give up quickly.

According to an HR employee at an event planning company, only around 10 out of nearly 100 infected employees have submitted all documents while the rest have yet to get them or do not intend to file a claim.

"Many of them do not want to go to ward medical centers because of the crowds there while some said the claim procedure is tortuous".

Nguyen Thuy Phuong, head of the short-term social insurance division at the Vietnam Social Security (VSS), says, "We do not have the authority to issue documents, rules or procedures".

Last November tens of thousands of people in HCMC who treated Covid at home could not make a social insurance claim because ward medical centers only issued certificates of completion of isolation and treatment.

The HCMC VSS resolved it by using the information listed in this document to settle the claims of over 10,000 people.

But the Ministry of Health's Medical Examination and Treatment Administration requires Covid patients treated at home to furnish a sick leave certificate and has asked everyone whose claim was settled to get it.

A majority of Covid patients in Hanoi now have mild symptoms and do not need to visit a medical facility, and so have no way of obtaining a medical certificate to prove their illness.

The city Department of Health has instructed commune and ward health stations to issue the certificate to patients treated at home.

But only medical stations in suburban districts like Dong Anh and Soc Son, where many blue-collar workers live, have issued it and not those in inner districts.

Phuong says: "The Departments of Health of Ho Chi Minh City, Thanh Hoa Province and Nghe An Province have instructed local medical stations to issue medical certificates to recovered patients. But in some localities they have not received the instructions and patients have to wait".

According to the Department of Medical Service Administration, as of March 8 more than 1.5 million Covid patients had treated themselves at home and want to make social insurance claims.

The Ministry of Health has sent the government a proposal recognizing seven types of must-have documents for recovered patients, including sick leave certificates, in order for people to be eligible for social insurance benefits.

These documents will be used as the basis for payment and benefits by the Social Insurance Agency.

"If this proposal was approved perhaps I wouldn't have to risk my life every day by going to the ward's health station, where hundreds of people line up to ask for a leave of absence from work," Ngoc Lan of Cau Giay District, who recovered from Covid on Feb. 28, says.

When she first went, heavily pregnant, to the ward medical station to ask for a medical certificate, she was told to return after four days to get it. But it was delayed and she had to go again on the eighth day.

Mai Quynh of Thanh Xuan District says: "It's too complicated and takes too long".

On Feb. 25, 10 days after recovering from the disease, she did not bother to make an insurance claim.

She does not want to be jostled about by the crowds at the medical center and is also worried her efforts might be in vain since regulations are constantly changed.

Dr Nguyen Huy Nga, former head of the Ministry of Health’s General Department of Preventive Medicine, says medical facilities should have methods so that infected and newly recovered people do not have to physically go to medical facilities to obtain the documents.

Some Hanoi wards are directing people to apply for the certificates through the leaders of their residential areas.

Minh Nhat of Hoang Mai District thinks "This way the process will be handled quickly while limiting unnecessary contact".

Anh hopes the ministry's proposal will be approved soon.

"People will suffer less if all paperwork is simplified".\

Since Covid-19 broke out, Vietnam has recorded over 5.83 million patients, of whom more than three million have recovered.

 
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