Vietnam: State health insurer cuts subsidy for special medicines



Vietnam's state-run health insurance agency the Department of Health Insurance has lowered its payment rates for 28 special medicines, placing tens of thousands of hepatitis, cancer and arthritis patients in the country in a life and death dilemma.


The new health insurance policy reduces the state's pharmaceutical subsidy from 50-100% to 30-50% for the 28 kinds of medicine. The health insurance fund still covers 50 other medicines for cancer that are less expensive.


Vietnam has made great progress in expanding social health insurance, which now covers more than half of its population, but reforms, such as providing premium subsidies, greater family enrolment and introducing catastrophic cost coverage are vital to help the country reach universal coverage.


An amendment to the Health Insurance makes it mandatory to purchase state health insurance from January 2015.


The Vietnamese government will promote health insurance by increasing premium subsidies for family enrolments. The first member of a family will buy health insurance with 4.5% of their basic salary, then the second, third and fourth members of the family will just pay 70%, 60% and 50% respectively of the premium paid by the first member.


The target is to expand the social health insurance programme to at least 70% of the population in 2015 and 80% by 2020.

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