Conference shares international experience in health insurance law amendments

25/12/2023 03:27 PM

Vietnam Social Security (VSS) on December 19 hosted a virtual conference, consulting international experience in building and making amendments to the Law on Health Insurance.

VSS Deputy General Director Nguyen Duc Hoa and Angela Pratt, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Việt Nam, co-chaired the conference.

Delivering opening remarks, VSS Deputy General Director Nguyen Duc Hoa highlighted remarkable results achieved during 30 years of implementing health insurance policy in Việt Nam, including increasing insurance coverage throughout the years and realising the universal coverage goal.

The health insurance fund has replaced the financial mechanism for health care, he said.

Ensuring medical examination and treatment benefits for health insurance card holders has reaped many progressive results. But achievements come with challenges, he said.

Health insurance covers a large proportion of the population but lacks sustainability. Coverage premiums in terms of ratio/income are high but still quite low compared to practical requirements, while benefits have been continuously expanded and enhanced for patients, he said.

In practice, the health insurance law has shown many inadequacies and needs amendments, he said.

 VSS Deputy General Director Nguyen Duc speaks at the conference

The conference aimed to share international experience in developing and implementing the Health Insurance Law. Based on the experience, the VSS will gain more insights to make proposals to competent agencies to amend and supplement the law to be relevant to the health insurance’s sustainable development and ensure the rights of health insurance participants.

Hoa said after 30 years of implementing the health insurance policy and more than 15 years of enforcing the health insurance law, the health insurance coverage rate in Vietnam has increased from 47 per cent in 2008 to 74.7 per cent in 2015 and 92.4 per cent in 2022 in the roadmap to achieve the goal of universal health insurance.

During the 2008-18 period, there were an average of 132 million health insurance-covered examinations each year with a total average cost of VND47.5 trillion per year.

Since 2019, over 155 million health insurance-covered medical examinations have been made each year, with a total average annual cost of about VND100 trillion.

In 2020 and 2021, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of medical examinations and expenditures nationwide decreased compared to 2019. However, the average number of medical examinations covered by health insurance in these two years was still more than 145 million per year.

In 2022, 150 million health check-ups covered by health insurance cost more than VND105 trillion. The health insurance funds play an increasingly important role in healthcare targets, accounting for 40.4 per cent of total social health spending in 2018, he said.

Angela Pratt, WHO Representative in Vietnam, speaks at the conference

The promulgation of the Health Insurance Law marks an important step forward in rapidly and sustainably increasing health insurance coverage, ensuring and taking care of public health while increasing access to and use of quality health services, gradually moving towards healthcare equity and effectiveness for people, including those in ethnic minority groups, from mountainous areas and poor household, Hoa said.

However, the implementation of the Law on Health Insurance to achieve the goal of universal health insurance coverage has faced challenges. Since 2016, the health insurance fund’s spending has exceeded collection.

In the context of international economic integration, globalisation, modernisation, the fourth industrial revolution and the modern medical sector, Vietnam is facing a rapidly increasing population ageing rate while disease patterns are changing.

Hoa said: “The health insurance policy needs to be amended to address current difficulties and stay relevant to current conditions.”

Speaking highly of Vietnam's health insurance policy, Angela Pratt, WHO Representative in Vietnam, said that Vietnam will strive to achieve health insurance coverage for 95 per cent of the population by 2025. This is the highest rate in the Western Pacific region.

Delegates speak at the conference

She said Vietnam is under great pressure to mobilise health insurance health care resources and ensure the sustainability of the Health Insurance Fund, as well as strengthen services at all levels of the health system.

We once again highlight the resilience and adaptability of the health system in an ever-changing world. From our experiences during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that we will not face the same difficulties when the complexity and difficulties have been clearly revealed: climate change and population aging, she said.

To solve these problems, all require greater resources, and Vietnam needs to consider resources to meet these requirements in amending the Health Insurance Law, she said.

"WHO is committed to working with the VSS, the Ministry of Health and other important partners towards the goal of improving the health of the Vietnamese people. To do so, the Ministry of Health and the VSS need to work together and be empowered," she said.

The conference on consulting international experience in building and making amendments to the Law on Health Insurance focused on a number of specific issues, such as the role and responsibilities of the health insurance fund’s management agencies in selecting and signing contracts with medical examination and treatment facilities, method of payment for medical examination and treatment.

An overview of the conference

Delegates evaluated the implementation of the law amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Law on Health Insurance and the role of the fund management agency in building and enforcing the law.

The delegates also shared international experiences in managing the fund.