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ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to estimate and analyse the "actual" unit cost of providing key clinical services in selected rural district hospitals in the North of Vietnam. It also examined the relationship between actual costs and the levels of cost covered by the corresponding user fees paid by patients.Methods: This was a facility-based costing study which estimates the costs of health care services from the perspective of the service providers. Three rural district hospitals from three provinces in the North of Vietnam were purposively selected for this study. The "step-down" approach was applied.Results: There was little difference in the costs of an outpatient visit across the hospitals, but the costs of an operation and an inpatient day varied considerably. In terms of cost structure, personnel costs accounted for the highest share of total cost of the clinical services. The shares of operating cost were considerable while depreciation of buildings/equipments made up a small "proportion". The study results revealed that the user fee levels were much lower than the actual costs of providing the corresponding services. The present study highlights the importance of costing data for hospital planning and management.
International Journal of Health Planning and Management 01/2009; 25(1):63-73. · 0.97 Impact Factor