Healthcare & Insurance in Vietnam

Went yesterday afternoon to the international clinic, where I got the first of three vaccinations for Japanese B encephalitis, a rare mosquito-borne disease, but one that you definitely do not want to get. If it doesn’t kill you or leave you in a coma, it can cause permanent mental impairment. I’d had the series eleven years ago, but hadn’t had any of the boosters because I didn’t return to Vietnam for seven years; but now that it looks like I’m going to be a regular visitor, I need the vaccinations. Now, if they would just come up with a vaccine for Dengue fever. (I hear they’re working on one.) The SOS Clinic is mostly for expats, though it is also used by wealthy Vietnamese. I got a rueful chuckle seeing a brochure about a program to get all one’s domestic staff health-checked & vaccinated with one-stop convenience.

But because of the recent US Supreme Court decision, I’d been thinking about healthcare & then I saw an article in the Vietnam News about health insurance in Vietnam. I guess I’d assumed, this being the Socialist Republic of Vietnam & all, that there was some form of universal healthcare system. But in fact there is a mix of private and public healthcare & a number of ways of paying for it. The government guarantees free healthcare to children six & younger, and offers very inexpensive coverage to targeted groups such as students, the very poor, etc. But quite a few people are left with a fee for service system. That is, there are people who are not covered. The government is trying to expand the number of people covered, but there is a long way to go. The one thing that Vietnam does not have, as far as I can tell, is private insurance companies. That is, the little research I’ve done seems to indicate that the government is the insurer.