Viet Nam Social Security staff trained to better understand and respond to health insurance members’ needs

To promote member-centric design and efficient implementation of social health insurance, ILO has supported training for Viet Nam Social Security staff on how to carry out satisfaction assessments and effectively meet the needs of users through customer care.

News | 18 October 2021
HANOI (ILO News) – Efforts are underway to ensure that Viet Nam’s statutory social health insurance (SHI) scheme effectively meets the needs of the population.

By the end of 2020, the scheme, which is funded by contributions from workers and employers, government subsidies, as well as household contributions, reportedly covered around 90 per cent of the population, protecting millions from catastrophic health care spending.

Despite broad SHI population coverage and generous subsidies for the poor, out-of-pocket health spending in Viet Nam persists, due in part to coverage gaps among certain groups, including informal workers. Even for some enrolled members, access inequalities and limited awareness of SHI benefits and procedures impede utilization.

In this context, the Viet Nam Customer Care Centre (VCCC) has recently been established, staffed with around 20 employees and a call centre with almost 20 operators. Tasked with management and implementation of support and counselling services to members, including the measurement of members’ satisfaction with social protection schemes, the overarching goal is to enhance the financial sustainability of the SHI fund.

“Universal coverage is easier to achieve if members are satisfied with SHI, perceive its value and trust the system they are contributing to. This limits pressure from dissatisfied members to opt out to buy substitutive commercial health insurance coverage, which could undermine the social solidarity and sustainability of the system,” said Marielle Phe Goursat, manager of ILO project Support to the Extension of Social Health Protection in South East Asia.

Collecting feedback from members and measuring satisfaction with the SHI scheme’s design, benefits and implementation not only holds Viet Nam Social Security accountable to its users, it informs the development and implementation of better benefits and services."

Marielle Phe Goursat, Manager of ILO project Support to the Extension of Social Health Protection in South East Asia
To this end, the afore-mentioned social health protection project, with funding from the Government of Luxembourg, is supporting Viet Nam Social Security (VSS) ̶ the implementing agency of SHI ̶ to strengthen the overall capacities of the VCCC. Collaborative efforts are ongoing to adopt an effective and transparent SHI satisfaction assessment mechanism, with training on the design and implementation of a national survey. The project is also supporting VCCC staff with customer care skills to address members’ information gaps and resolve issues in accessing entitlements.

Specifically, the project supported VSS to carry out a four-day training in Hanoi in April 2021 to train 50 central and provincial staff on how to measure member satisfaction with quality of services, including registration, co-payments, payment of contributions, access to benefits and awareness of entitlements. Three months of follow-up support has also been provided to assist VCCC to design the first ever customer satisfaction survey, with anticipated implementation in the final quarter of 2021.

In addition, the project supported a three-day training course for 25 VCCC staff members in July 2021. The training aimed to foster a positive change to mindsets on customer care, providing participants with skills on effective communication, customer care procedures, time and conflict management and handling of complaints. As well as formal training methods, interactive discussions were facilitated and participants explored real experiences of SHI members with opportunities to practice handling complaints.

To complement this, a series of hands-on coaching sessions have been delivered by qualified and experienced coachers to 12 training participants, during which their concerns and weaknesses were discussed, and an action plan to promote customer care within VSS was developed.

To strengthen the overall institutional capacity of the customer care system of VSS, selected participants will eventually take part a training of trainers (TOT) session, enabling them to share their knowledge with colleagues. Additionally, a series of video clips developed by the trained participants have been produced, introducing key customer care skills to roll out to provincial staff, and another virtual two-day training is planned for approximately 40-50 customer care staff from VSS provincial offices across the country.

According to Goursat, these efforts represent a shift within VSS to a client service approach, through which the needs and voices of users are reflected in design, delivery and evaluation of SHI; in particular, giving voice to the most vulnerable members of society who tend to be underrepresented in policy design, is imperative.