Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Watchdog calls for transparency in healthcare reform

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation yesterday called on government officials to resolve transparency issues regarding the second-generation health plan.

After the Executive Yuan yesterday approved amendments to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法), the foundation called on Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) to take a closer look at the numerous issues surrounding national health insurance that must be resolved before the public can have confidence in the government’s ability to handle the public fund.

The recent premium increase to a rate of 5.17 percent came into effect on Apr. 1. The government says that the amendments proposed by the Executive Yuan could address the fund’s deficit and was more “fair” because the premium payments would be calculated according to income per household rather than per capita.

“No matter how many reforms are made to the income aspect [of the health insurance fund], if the policies governing expenses remain secretive and the public cannot see any improvement in the quality of medical care, amending [the Act] will be a waste of time and we could expect other premium hikes in the future,” foundation executive director Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君) told a press conference yesterday.

Liu said the public has been kept in the dark on a number of important matters surrounding national health insurance, such as the creation and composition of the National Health Insurance Fund supervisory committee.

Because the agenda and minutes of supervisory committee meetings are not publicized, the public has no means of knowing how the committee reaches its decisions on matters such as drug coverage, medical care or methods for receiving compensation, she said.

The watchdog also called on government officials to improve the quality of medical care by publicizing evaluations of medical institutions and publicizing audited financial reports on hospitals.

This could also prevent dishonest doctors and institutions from making illegal profits by overcharging for drugs and medical care or proposing certain treatments based on the amount of compensation paid out by the health insurance system, Liu said.

“If the second-generation health plan is to be sustainable in the long term, it must gain the trust of the public and provide medical care people can rely on,” she said.

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