Thu, May 18, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Academics, activists pan health insurance reform plan

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Department of Health's plan to reform the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) puts the financial burden on the country's middle class and abandons the meaning of social insurance, academics and medical issues advocates said at a public hearing yesterday.

Huang Yophy (黃耀輝), associate professor in the department of finance and tax administration at the National Taipei College of Business, said the new proposal intended to increase premiums for individuals to compensate for losses the health insurance system has accumulated over the years.

Huang said that doing so would affect 95 percent of the insured population, and they would strongly oppose the new policy if they were forced to pay higher premiums.

He added that National Health Insurance revenue growth had exceeded GDP growth.

This was unreasonable, he said.

Statistics provided by the Cabinet indicated that nearly half of insured people would pay more for health insurance under the new system.

Eva Teng (滕西華), secretary-general of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, said that the Bureau of National Health Insurance had failed to explain to the public why it had set the premium rate at 3.14 percent.

It also did not explain why so many medical resources have been wasted in the 11 years since the national health insurance system was implemented or why payments have not been able to cover the losses, she said.

The hearing, hosted by Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Yin Ling-ying (尹伶瑛) at the Legislative Yuan, was held to examine whether the proposed amendments, dubbed the "second generation health insurance," would compromise the interests of the weak and the poor.

Minister of the Department of Health Hou Sheng-muo (侯勝茂) said in opening remarks that after traveling around the world, he would have to say that Taiwan has the best health insurance policy in the world.

He said it was necessary to first affirm the values of the system before any meaningful discussion could be held.

The amendments propose that premiums be charged per household and be based on the total income of a family, including earnings from salaries, stocks and bonds or other sources of revenue.

Currently, the premiums are deducted from each employee's monthly paycheck.

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