Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington DC, has run an article highlighting Vietnam’s impressive progress in universal health coverage (UHC) over the past decade.
Providing treatment to a insurance-covered patient at a health care facility in Son La (Photo: VNA)
The article cited a recent research as saying that Vietnam provided a generous benefit package that is more equitable for all.
It held that the takeaway lessons for other developing countries that want to achieve UHC through health insurance include strong political commitment with financial resources and an incremental approach that is attuned to their population. When designing health insurance systems, keeping tabs on all three UHC dimensions, ensuring consistent service coverage for essential health services, and government subsidies for vulnerable populations are needed.
Vietnam established health insurance for employees in the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the government began taking more financial responsibility for the poor. That was when it increased coverage, though incrementally, it noted.
It said that Vietnam made impressive increases in population coverage over the span of 13 years through the critical policies/laws/decrees they enacted.
Vietnam’s pro-poor design focused on stabilising the most vulnerable populations, so those uninsured are assumed to have some form of financial capacity.
However, it noted that Vietnam still faces great challenges, including aging population and shifting disease burdens are putting a lot of pressure on the financial sustainability of their health insurance systems.
Cross subsidization, provider payment reform, and cost-effective benefit packages have to be carefully designed and implemented to improve the efficiency, equity, and affordability of health insurance systems. Though the future is uncertain, Vietnam’s prospects look promising as they continue to customize their designs to their realities, it added./.VNA