Sat, Jul 27, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Insurance bureau issues first IC card to president

ELECTRONIC DATA The head of the Department of Health says Taiwan's healthcare system has entered the e-generation thanks to the use of new integrated-circuit cards

By Chang Yu-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian presents a new National Health Insurance IC card to a representative of underprivileged groups at a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) received Taiwan's first National Health Insurance integrated-circuit (IC) card yesterday, marking the beginning of the nationwide issuing of the cards.

"Today we can be proud because we have declared to the world that our nation's healthcare system has entered the e-generation," said Department of Health (DOH) Director-General Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) as he presented the president with the card.

The presentation was made at a press conference organized by the Bureau of National Health Insurance under the DOH.

"Receiving the nation's first IC card does not mean that I will enjoy special privileges when seeking medical treatment," Chen said. "In fact, it reminds me that the government should bear the responsibility of sustaining the nation's health-insurance program."

Indeed, neither Chen nor anyone else will be able to use the card until November at the earliest, as it will only then start to be accepted by a limited number of hospitals and clinics. It will not become the sole means of registering for health-insurance-funded medical treatment until May next year.

The current paper cards will remain effective until then.

"There is no way we can issue all 22 million cards to citizens at the same time," Louis Liu (劉在銓), general manager of the bureau's department of planning and evaluation, told the Taipei Times.

"The company producing the cards is also responsible for distributing them and collecting signatures from all employers certifying that they have been distributed. This is a time-consuming process," he added.

The IC card contains a microchip that can store 32K of data. The chip will store each individual's personal information, such as records of the last six visits to the hospital and medical expenses.

Data recorded on the card will only be accessible when the card is used in conjunction with a patient's secret personal-identification number and a doctor's card and secret code.

The DOH estimates that the IC card will save about NT$6.5 billion for the health-insurance program every year because it will reduce the labor and resources required to renew the paper card.

According to the Bureau of National Health Insurance, the cards will be issued to residents in Taipei City, Taichung City, Kaohsiung City and Penghu County from yesterday to the end of September.

From September to November, the IC cards will be distributed in Keelung City, Taipei County, Miaoli County, Taichung County, Pintung County and Kaohsiung County.

Residents in Taoyuan County, Hsinchu County, Changhua County, Nantou County, Chiayi County, Chiayi City, Yunlin County, Tainan County and Tainan City will receive their IC card between November this year and February next year.

Finally, foreigners, residents of Ilan County, Taitung County, Hualien County, Kinmen County and Lienchiang County will receive their IC cards between February and March of next year.

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