Tue, Mar 23, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Major business groups crying foul over premium hike

STAFF WRITER

The nation’s six major business associations joined forces yesterday to protest the government’s plan to increase health insurance premiums, threatening to reduce on hiring if no overhaul is made before the plan takes effect on April 1.

Chang Ping-chao (張平沼), chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, said the hikes — from 4.55 percent to 5.17 percent — would add more than NT$23.412 billion (US$735 million) in labor costs annually.

“This will be more than the cost of a lunchbox, as Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) said,” Chang told a press conference attended by the heads of the six associations.

Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄), chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, said that while private sector believes the hike plan was “well intended,” the government should not impose the greater share of the cost on businesses, which are already facing tough competition.

“If the workforce costs continue to rise, we may have to cut back on hiring,” Chen said.

The business leaders, including Theodore Huang (黃茂雄), chairman of the Chinese National Association, called on the government to revise the law by cutting the ratio of premiums employers must pay from 60 percent to 50 percent of employee premiums, while boosting the government ratio from 10 percent to 20 percent.

The government now pays 10 percent of the cost per insured person, while the employer pays 60 percent and the policyholder 30 percent.

The groups said they would petition Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) if no change is made.

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