Healthcare Information for Expatriates in Vietnam
Vietnam is a beautiful country and attracts hundreds and thousands of tourists and expats every year. As an expat, if you are planning to move to Vietnam, you must update yourself about the country’s healthcare system. This knowledge will help you access medical assistance easily and cover all medical expenses without spending too much. For more information, you can also check out the CDC Vietnam page for great information and advice if you are living in this exciting country.
Overview of Healthcare in Vietnam
Vietnam’s healthcare system combines numerous aspects derived from Eastern and Western medicines. Though there is no universal healthcare plan in place currently in Vietnam, the government has plans to introduce one very soon. This means the Vietnamese citizens currently need to pay for medical assistance at both public and private hospitals. Despite being the costlier option of the two, several citizens prefer private hospitals as they are better equipped.
Expats who are planning a move to Vietnam can consider the following types of insurance coverage plans:
- Travel Insurance
- Evacuation Coverage
- International Health Insurance
- Expat Life and Disability Insurance
- Group Expat Insurance Plans
How the Vietnamese Healthcare System Works for Expats
Expats need to purchase a good private health insurance plan before traveling to Vietnam. This ensures that they can get optimum care at private hospitals in the country. Staff employed at most of the private hospitals can speak in English. Moreover, the facilities in Vietnam are often equipped with better equipment than the public hospitals. Most expats will prefer to go to private hospitals in Asia.
The standard of public healthcare is still much better in the big cities in Vietnam. In rural areas, healthcare still needs a lot of development and cannot be considered reliable. In some rural parts, healthcare almost doesn’t exist at all. Expats are also recommended to buy a good international medical insurance plan to cover the treatment cost at private hospitals. Such plans cover them for treatment not only in Vietnam but also abroad at hospitals in Bangkok or Singapore or other countries for specialist or medical emergencies.
Public Healthcare in Vietnam
Public hospitals in Vietnam generally don’t have the kind of infrastructure that the hospitals in North America or Europe have. Poor funding, lack of latest equipment, and a non-English speaking medical staff are the primary reasons why public hospitals are not the best facilities for expats in Vietnam.
Private Healthcare in Vietnam
Unlike the public hospitals, the standard of healthcare in private hospitals in Vietnam is comparable to that of the Western countries. Private hospitals employ doctors who have studied and trained overseas, as well as those who have moved to Vietnam from Korea, Japan, France, and the USA. Most of the private hospitals in Vietnam accept international health insurance plans. The cost of healthcare in private hospitals varies from facility to facility.
While the fees for doctors working in private hospitals is still lower than the Western doctors, the ones who attend to expats generally charge more than those doctors who attend to the locals. Besides English, many doctors and staff employed in private hospitals can also speak French.
Medicines and Pharmacies
It is not difficult to purchase medicines in Vietnam without a prescription, but we recommend that you consult a doctor first. However, expats must always check the date of packaging on the drugs before buying them. Those who want to be extra careful and not fall into the trap of counterfeit drugs are advised to buy their medicines from private hospitals and clinics. Those who have a prescription issued outside of Vietnam can carry a prescription copy along with a doctor’s letter confirming that the drugs are meant for expat’s personal use only.
Emergency Services in Vietnam
Expats can dial 115 to avail emergency ambulance/first-aid services in Vietnam. However, one must know that emergency services usually respond slowly and the attending staff may not always speak English. The equipment inside the ambulance may also not be up to the mark. Some private hospitals provide better private emergency ambulance service. However, due to their high charges, many expats prefer using a taxi service to reach the nearest private hospital for treatment. Additionally, the emergency number to reach the police in Vietnam is 113, while those who want to call for fire assistance should dial 114.
Best Private International Medical Insurance for Expats in Vietnam
There are several international insurance plans available for expats who are planning to move to Vietnam. Under these plans, expats can access worldwide health coverage, hospitalization, prescribed medication, outpatient care, and more, subject to coverage conditions of the purchased insurance plan. Cigna Global Insurance is a popular international health insurance plan that offers comprehensive cover to expats in Vietnam. You can also go ahead with Allianz International Health Insurance Plan that offers comprehensive health cover to Vietnamese expats & possibly even local nationals.
Expats must check with both the hospital and the insurance company for the kinds of treatment that their plan covers before purchasing it. At times, your insurer may have a cover available, but you might need to pay the hospital post-treatment charges first and then get the claim processed with the insurer later.