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.  

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.