Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Cancel health insurance while overseas: bureau

SAVE PREMIUMS Those who stay out of the country for more than six months should cancel their insurance, as they are eligible for immediate coverage on their return

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

People who expect to stay overseas for more than six months are advised to withdraw from national health insurance coverage, the Bureau of National Health Insurance said yesterday.

According to bureau secretary Cheng Mu (程穆), every year 60,000 to 70,000 people opt out of the insurance system when they go abroad and rejoin it on their return. Of those, approximately 30,000 are overseas students, he added.

They are eligible to become insured again from the day they return to the country, Cheng said, adding that the option was only workable for people who planned to stay in other countries for more than six months.

For those who return to Taiwan after being abroad for less than six months, the withdrawal record will be voided and they must pay the insurance fees owed for their time abroad, he said at a press conference.

In addition, anyone who withdraws from insurance coverage after leaving the country must cover their insurance premium up to the application date, according to the bureau.

Many overseas students stay abroad for less than six months, Cheng said.

In view of this, he suggested they maintain their national health insurance coverage so they can apply for insurance payments even if they receive medical treatment in other nations.

Based on current regulations, anyone can rejoin the insurance at any time, as long as they have a previous record of enrollment.

However, according to a proposed amendment to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法), those who stay overseas for more than two years may not be able to immediately regain health insurance coverage when they return to Taiwan.

The amendment was filed by the Bureau of National Health Insurance and the health department's Task Force for National Health Insurance at the end of last month.

According to task force vice chairman Chu Tung-kuang (曲同光), the proposed amendment suggests that overseas Taiwanese will only be able to get insurance coverage under two situations: they must have had national health coverage within the previous year or they must have resided in Taiwan for at least four months since returning.

Enforcement of the new regulations won't begin until the Executive Yuan has approved the amendment and the Department of Health has fully publicized the change of rules, Chu said.

Chu estimated that about 12,000 people return to Taiwan every year to enjoy local health services covered by national health insurance, and then leave right after the treatment is done.

The health insurance system has to pay more than NT$100 million (US$3 million) every year for these people's medical expenditures, Chu said.

Most of these people come back because local medical expenses are far lower those in other nations, since Taiwan's health insurance covers much of the cost, Chu said.

This story has been viewed 4254 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top