Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Unions, legislators concerned about health premiums

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several labor unions and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators yesterday lodged a protest over the National Health Insurance Bureau's reported plan to hike premiums.

Although the Department of Health's Supervisory Committee of National Health Insurance announced there would no immediate premium increase last Friday, labor union representatives and KMT legislators yesterday said they remain concerned over recent media reports that quoted Vice Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) as saying that the department will raise the insurance fees in the near future.

At a press conference held jointly with a number of labor groups, KMT Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) yesterday accused the department of robbing the poor to help the rich.

She said it was unfair for the department to lower the average payment for employers while increasing premiums for the poor.

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said the health department should consider how to reduce its expenditures and collect the debt owed to the bureau by district governments and companies, which Lai claimed amounted to NT$51.9 billion (US$1.58 billion) and NT$24.6 billion respectively.

President of the Chinese Federation of Construction Workers Kan Wen-nan (干文男) said that he would only approve the hikes if the bureau could fulfill its responsibility in investigating graft among medical personnel and manufacturers through negotiations on medication prices.

Chen, who was also at the press conference, admitted the bureau was suffering from a financial crisis and that some adjustment to its financial structure was necessary.

"But there will not be a premium hike," Chen said.

Kan said he was dissatisfied with the response as Chen had been unable to specify how long the premium would remain unchanged.

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