Officials have confirmed that all patients who visit hospitals for treatment have been treated fairly no matter if their payment is covered by the social security system (SSS) or is covered by their own finance.

The confirmation came after members of the SSS have complained that they received poor service when visiting hospital, with their treatment covered by SSS funding, unlike those paying their own way.

Director General of the Department of Social Security under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Dr Yangkou Yangluesai said he has learnt about the complaint, but he confirmed that fair treatment is in place.

“In some cases, SSS members were financed by the SSS up to 40 to 50 million kip per one treatment,” he said.

Dr Yangkou responded to the public complaint at a press conference on Friday held at the National Assembly (NA). The conference was in response to issues raised by members of the public through the hotline of the NA’s ordinary session that ended on Friday.

He added that there is no ceiling on spending for each SSS member for their treatment in categories of illness covered by the SSS such as treatment for an accident.

But, in general, if treatment lasts longer than six months, the patient is required to contribute financing.

However, the SSS does not cover treatment expenditure for particular illnesses with very high treatment costs such as heart operations as the SSS fund does not have the capacity.

Regarding the issue about poorer service that some SSS members have complained they experienced, the director noticed that it could happen in some cases, but not in the cases of treatment for serious illness.

So far, SSS’s patients are required to visit hospitals they have made contracts with for treatment if spending is to be covered by the SSS.

The fact that a SSS membership card cannot be used in all hospitals is due to the communication networks of all hospitals not being linked, according to the director.

“Without the communication network connected, it is difficult to transfer money from a hospital the SSS member has contracted with to another hospital he receives treatment at,” he said, adding that the money is given a year in advance to the hospital the SSS member has contracted with.

However, the SSS patient can claim for reimbursement in a case where he visits another hospital, rather than the one he made a contract with, only if he shows the treatment receipt from the hospital where he was treated to the hospital he contracted.

“However, once all the hospitals have their communication network linked, we will consider and work it out so one SSS membership card can be used in all hospitals,” he said.

In addition, the SSS provides spending coverage for treatment oversees in two cases, according to him.

The first case is when the SSS members travel abroad on an official mission and becomes ill and needs treatment.

The second one is when domestic hospitals certify that the symptom of the patient is beyond their ability to treat, which needs the patient to travel abroad for treatment.

But spending coverage by the SSS for these two cases will be based on spending rate policy offered for treatment here in Laos.

All state employees contribute 8 percent of their overall income every month to the social security fund, while the government contributes 8.5 percent for its employees.

An employee within a private enterprise is required to pay 5.5 percent of their income every month, while the employer contributes a further 6 percent of the employee’s income to the fund.

Last year, the NA approved the Social Security Law that enabled all walks of life to gain membership of the SSS.

Source: Vientiane Times
Published on July 28, 2014