The National Health Insurance (NHI) program would subsidize an additional 10 types of Chinese herbal medicines from March, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said yesterday.
Many people believe that Western medicine only treats symptoms and that taking traditional Chinese medicine can, over the long term, harmonize or nourish the body and help it recuperate, but many herbal medicines are not covered by the NHI program.
In a meeting with the National Union of Chinese Medical Doctors’ Association, the NHIA accepted the group’s proposal to increase subsidies for traditional Chinese medicine and to include an additional 10 types of relatively expensive herbal medicines in the NHI system.
The additional 10 types of herbal medicines, of which there are 74 products with drug permits, would be included in the NHI program from March, NHIA Deputy Director-General Tsai Shu-ling (蔡淑鈴) said.
Five are concentrated formulas: 10-flavor detox formula (十味敗毒湯); Angelica acutiloba and Pinellia (平肝流氣飲); stomach relief granules (香砂養胃湯); Angelica acutiloba and Astragalus (歸耆建中湯); and cinnamon and persica granules (折衝飲).
The other five are herbal ingredients: Arisaema cum bile (膽南星), false starwort root (太子參), Calamus draco (血竭), Schizonepeta tenuifolia (黑荊芥) and carbonized garden burnet root (地榆炭).
To be subsidized by the NHI program, herbal medicines must be manufactured by Good Manufacturing Practice-certified factories and consist of concentrated herbal medicine prescribed by a licensed doctor, Tsai said.
However, as some physicians practicing traditional Chinese medicine have argued that some expensive herbal ingredients cannot be concentrated, the NHIA has modified the rules to include them, she said.
Raising NHI subsidies for traditional Chinese medicine from a daily average of NT$35 to NT$37 (US$1.15 to US$1.21) would increase the program’s costs by about NT$629 million annually, but would also benefit an estimated 6 million people, NHIA Medical Administration Section Director Lee Chun-fu (李純馥) said.
Taipei Chinese Medical Association president Guo Wei-jun (郭威均) said that some herbal medicine ingredients are relatively expensive, so inclusion in the NHI program would save people an estimated NT$100 to NT$200 per week.
Additional reporting by CNA
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