Getting affordable and adequate health services used to be difficult for Nguyen Van Tam, a resident of Cao Lanh District in Dong Thap Province of Vietnam. Tam is among nearly 2.5 million people living close to the poverty line in the Mekong Delta region.
For them, paying for health insurance was also a challenge. In 2006 however, the Mekong Regional Health Support Project supported by the World Bank, made health insurance more affordable for vulnerable households such as Tam’s.
“I have received a lot of support through health insurance ever since I suffered from chronic kidney failure,” said Nguyen Van Tam. “My children can still go to school while I am hospitalized for kidney dialysis.”
Implemented from 2006 to mid-2012, the project aimed to improve health services in the region and to enhance access to these services, especially for vulnerable people. The project contributed an additional 30 percent of health insurance premiums on top of the 50 percent government subsidy, leaving individuals to pay only the remaining 20 percent.
By the end of 2009, about 70 percent of people living close to the poverty line in the region were covered by health insurance, up from 10 percent in 2006.
In addition, around 25,000 poor patients have received financial support to have medical care and heart surgery.