In Viet Nam, household direct out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenditure as a share of the total health expenditure has been always high, ranging from 50% to 70%. The high share of OOP expenditure has been linked to different inequity problems such as catastrophic health expenditure (households must reduce their expenditure on other necessities) and impoverishment. This paper aims to examine catastrophic and poverty impacts of household out-of-pocket health expenditure in Viet Nam over time and identify socio-economic indicators associated with them. Data used in this research were obtained from a nationally representative household survey, Viet Nam Living Standard Survey 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. The findings revealed that there were problems in health care financing in Viet Nam - many households encountered catastrophic health expenditure and/or were pushed into poverty due to health care payments. The issues were pervasive over time. Catastrophic expenditure and impoverishment problems were more common among the households who had more elderly people and those located in rural areas. Importantly, the financial protection aspect of the national health insurance schemes was still modest. Given these findings, more attention is needed on developing methods of financial protection in Viet Nam.
Keywords: Financial burden; Health; Out-of-pocket payment; Viet Nam.
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