Hồ Chí Minh City (HCMC) will start raising prices of healthcare services at public hospitals from the middle of next year to make up for the burgeoning cost and have revenues for improving the service quality, said Huỳnh Công Hùng, head of the culture-society committee of the city’s People’s Council.
The price hike in healthcare services which will be effective from June 1, 2014 is applicable to 1,996 services as regulated in Circular 04 issued by the health and finance ministries in 2012.
The People’s Council this afternoon will discuss the petition on the service price hike for approval as proposed by the city’s government.
The price hike starting from next June will be gradual, with an aim to raise prices to the ceiling provided for in the aforesaid circular in the middle of 2016, by then the average price will be 49% higher than the current level.
If the petition is passed, the prices of health examination and treatment services at local hospitals will be adjusted to 75% of the price ceiling in Circular 4 by next June, to 85% one year later, and 100% of the ceiling by June 2016.
Healthcare prices introduced 18 years ago have become outdated, which fail to allow clinics to cover health examination and treatment costs compared to rising expenses resulting from new medical technologies and pay rise for labor force in the industry, Hùng said.
The report presented by Hùng at the meeting indicates that besides providing health examination and treatment services to local residents, city-based hospitals have had to serve patients from other southern provinces, estimated at 30-50% of the total number.
Therefore, if the fee hikes are not carried out, local hospitals will continue struggling with the severe overload.
Raising the fees will help improve the service quality as hospitals will have more revenue to purchase necessary equipment to expand examination areas as well as maintaining their premises.
Sixty-two out of 63 provinces and cities have already revised up healthcare service fees compared to the price frame set up 18 years ago.
Regarding the increased charges due to the price hikes, Hùng asserted that the gap would be small as the amount set aside for medicine account for up to 60% of the total expense, meaning only the 40% for healthcare services would be adjusted subject to the price hikes.
As 63% of local citizens are joining medical insurance citywide, the impacts of the service fee hikes on these people will not be so huge while the 37% that have yet to have insurance coverage will definitely feel the pinch.
The price hikes will be carried out at around 56 city-level hospitals, medical centers and clinics and 318 district-level medical centers from the middle of 2014.
By VÂN NAM
Source: The Saigon Times Daily