All expenses directly related to medical examination and treatment for patients and various allowances for health workers will be counted in the prices of some 1,800 medical services at public hospitals, the ministry said at a seminar on Friday.

That means hospital bed charges will increase by VND10,000-20,000 (US$0.45-0.9) per day and the cost of a surgery will rise by VND300,000-1.5 million ($13.5-67.6), among other price hikes, said Nguyen Nam Lien, head of the ministry’s Department of Planning and Finance told the event in the northern city of Hai Phong.

The new pricing scheme, taking effect on December, also makes salaries for doctors and other health workers part of the price of medical services from March 2016, Lien said.

This means if a patient pays VND6 million ($270) for his medical treatment, VND350,000-400,000 ($15.8-18) of the amount will be used to cover wages for doctors and other health workers, Lien explained.

All salaries and allowances for health workers are currently covered by the state budget, the official added.

Such a possible hike in medical service prices will strongly affect low-income people without health insurance, said Cao Van Sang, director of Ho Chi Minh Social Insurance Agency.

The number of people not covered by health insurance amounts to about 30 million, or nearly 29 percent of the country’s population, according to statistics.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen if the quality of medical services will be enhanced along with the higher service fees, Sang said.

For the sake of patients, a hike in hospital fees must go hand in hand with improvements in the quality of medical examination and treatment, Dr. Nguyen Truong Son, director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Cho Ray Hospital, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“This is a great challenge to all managers of hospitals,” Dr. Son said.

Tuoi Tre News - October 10, 2015