Tue, Nov 05, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Pan-blue lawmakers accuse BNHI of greed

BONUS BROUHAHA Bureau of National Health Insurance officials have denied accusations that staffers will benefit from the recent hike in insurance premiums

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-blue lawmakers accused the Bureau of National Health Insur-ance yesterday of raising health insurance payments to benefit its own employees.

"The more the bureau earns, the greater the bonuses its employees get. Its employees' bonuses are derived from people's health insurance payments," said PFP Legislator Cheng San-yuan (鄭三元) in a budget review meeting at the legislature's Sanitation, Environment and Social Welfare Committee.

"These employees are greedier than rake collectors in gambling houses," Cheng said.

"Have you ever thought about the poor when increasing health insurance payments?" Cheng asked Department of Health acting head Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲).

The bureau raised insurance premiums from 4.25 percent of a person's monthly salary to 4.55 percent on Sept. 1.

As a result, Cheng said, the bureau's annual income will increase by NT$30 billion and the total amount of its employees' annual bonuses will rise by NT$15 million.

KMT Legislator Hou Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) backed Cheng by saying the bureau's inefficient employees do not deserve bonuses.

"In contrast to the bureau's poor performance, the bonuses its employees receive are unreasonably high," Hou said.

Meanwhile, PFP Legislator Lin Hui-kuan (林惠官) said the increase in insurance premiums has caused widespread dissatisfaction.

"The bureau is neither honest nor trustworthy," Lin said.

DPP Legislator Lai Ching-te

(賴清德), however, refuted his colleagues' accusations, saying that that the NHI system is much better than those in many countries.

In response to lawmakers' accusations, BNHI Deputy General Manager Chen I-feng (陳逸峰), said yesterday that staff bonuses come from government budgets rather than NHI premiums.

"Our employees have never taken a penny from NHI premiums," Chen said.

"Therefore, the increase in the NHI premiums has absolutely nothing to do with our bonuses," he said.

Chen explained that the employees do not have the same benefits system as other civil servants because the bureau is not a government institution, even though it imple-ment's government policy.

"For example, our employees have neither retirement pensions nor education bursaries for their children. These are benefits every civil servant enjoys," he said.

The bureau rewards its staff with better bonuses to compensate for those disadvantages, Chen added.

Liu Chien-hsiang (劉見祥), another BNHI deputy general manager, said the dispute about bonuses arises from the bureau's obscure identity.

"If the bureau was a governmental institution, its employees would be able to enjoy the civil servants' welfare system. Then it would not need to compensate its employees with big bonuses," Liu said.

Liu said he hoped the bureau's identity would be clarified as soon as possible.

Chen noted that staff bonuses have been the target of lawmakers' criticism for a long time.

"We would rather give up our bonuses than keep getting criticized over them," he said.

During yesterday's committee meeting, lawmakers also accused some doctors and hospitals of wasting medical resources.

In response, Twu held a press conference yesterday afternoon to announce that he was setting up a team to investigate allegations of corruption in the health system.

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