Sun, Jan 23, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Conference will address problems with healthcare

CNA , TAIPEI

A conference held to get public input into how to remedy the debt-ridden national health insurance program yesterday, rejected the idea of hiking premiums.

The 20 participants in the three-day conference agreed unanimously that action should be taken to save the program from bankruptcy, but not through an increase in insurance premiums.

The conference was organized by National Taiwan University's Sociology Department at the request of the National Health Insurance Bureau.

The participants reached consensus that the health categories covered by the program should not be reduced to deal with the program's financial difficulties.

They suggested a change in how premiums are calculated, from a percentage of an insured's salary to a percentage of their total personal income, saying this would be a fairer system.

In order to raise funds to finance the program, they suggested levying a health tax on cigarettes and aggressively pursuing claims for damage on behalf of motor vehicle accident victims and against employers negligent in occupational safety.

Abuse and waste in the health insurance program should be curbed to decrease the program's costs, according to the conclusions reached by the conference participants.

Liu Chien-hsiang (劉見祥), general manager of the National Health Insurance Bureau, said the conclusions will be taken into account when the bureau works out its proposal for improving the financial health of the program.

Noting that the bureaus' proposal will have to be approved by the Department of Health and the Executive Yuan before it can take effect and that the Legislative Yuan has passed a resolution forbidding the Executive Yuan from raising national health insurance premiums before the new legislature opens, Liu said his bureau will not cut corners in working out its proposal.

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