The Bureau of National Health Insurance yesterday said the government had no intention of expanding its health insurance subsidies to employers under the new payment scale that will take effect on April 1.
On Tuesday, the Executive Yuan announced that starting next month, the premium rate for universal coverage would increase from 4.55 percent to 5.17 percent.
However, 78 percent of people covered by the plan would remain unaffected by the rate increase because of offsetting subsidies from the government. The average increase in dollar terms would be the equivalent of a lunch box, the bureau has said.
The business sector, however, frowned upon the revised plan, saying that while employees faced a minor hike, employers were expected to pay an extra NT$1.95 billion (US$61.3 million) per month, or NT$23.4 billion annually.
The extra cost would likely deal a severe blow to the industry and would be reflected in rising prices, lessening competitiveness, businesses said, urging the government to decrease the employer’s share of the premium from 60 percent to 50 percent to offset the added burden.
Under the current plan, employees in the private sector pay 30 percent of the premium, while the employer pays 60 percent and the government 10 percent.
The bureau said the government had already committed billions in subsidies, adding that employers had a “social responsibility” toward their employees.
Lee Shao-chen (李少珍), chief of the bureau’s finance section, said the bureau had already decreased the percentage from 80 percent to the current 60 percent, adding that in its efforts to create a second-generation insurance plan, the bureau would “look at the math” as the government revamps the system.
In other news, while the national labor insurance premium will soon rise by half a percentage point, the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) said yesterday that the increase was routine and differed from rate increases in the National Health Insurance program.
The council said that regular increases in labor insurance premiums, as stipulated in Article 13 of the Labor Insurance Regulations (勞工保險條例), allow for a 0.5 percentage point raise every year until the rate reaches 10 percent.
Thereafter, the rate is increased by 0.5 percentage point every two years until the cap of 13 percent is reached.
This means that starting on Jan. 1 next year, the labor insurance premium will increase from the 6.5 percent to 7 percent, affecting about 9.08 million insured workers.
In other words, an average worker in the NT$28,000 category who is insured by his company will have to pay an extra NT$28 each month.
The financial condition of the labor insurance fund has come under scrutiny, with lawmakers saying the fund risks going bankrupt in the near future if nothing were done to resolve the problem.
At the end of last month, the labor insurance fund held about NT$297 billion.
CLA Vice Chairman Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) said the Executive Yuan had given instructions to the Council for Economic Planning and Development, which is in the process of forming a multi-agency task force to resolve the matter.