Wed, Apr 04, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Government postpones start of new NHI system

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan yesterday delayed until Jan. 1 next year the adoption of the second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) program to allow more time for better preparations.

Under the initial plan, implementation of the second-generation NHI program was scheduled for July, after an amendment the legislature passed on Jan. 4 last year.

The decision to delay its implementation was taken because some of the preparatory work has taken longer than expected, Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Once the new system takes effect, individuals would have to pay a proposed 4.91 percent of their regular monthly salary for NHI coverage, down from the current 5.17 percent.

The suggested premium rate of 4.91 percent must be decided upon by the NHI Supervisory Commission and NHI Medical Expenditure Negotiation Committee based on a closely linked income and expenditure mechanism, Bureau of National Health Insurance director-general Day Guey-ing (戴桂英) said.

She said the decision could be made in August.

Under the new NHI system, a 2 percent supplementary premium will be imposed on non-payroll incomes, including incomes earned from six various sources: bonuses more than four times the individual’s monthly salary, professional practices, stock dividends, interest, rent and moonlighting.

Based on 2008 tax return data, the government expected an increase of NT$20 billion (US$678.6 million) in annual health premiums from the imposition of the new supplementary system to help sustain the cash-strapped NHI system, Day said.

About 20 percent of the insured will have increased premiums resulting from extra sources of income, while 80 percent of the population will pay less if the regular premium is set lower than the current 5.17 percent, Day said.

When the second-generation NHI proposal was being discussed in the legislature, the government said that the premium rate of 4.91 percent would be kept unchanged at least during the first five years of the second-generation program, because the new plan would generate NT$508.6 billion in annual health insurance premiums, and that would balance the financial shortfall of the current system in five years.

However, officials declined to reaffirm the promise, saying only that changes in NHI premium rates are subject to annual review by the NHI Supervisory Commission and the NHI Medical Expenditure Negotiation Committee.

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