Mon, Dec 06, 2010 - Page 3 News List

No plan can be ‘100% fair’: DOH

‘VERY UNFAIR’Critics claimed the plan placed a burden on stay-at-home moms and the unemployed, who would have to pay their premiums based on the minimum wage

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang speaks at a meeting organized by the association for the promotion of public health.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Responding to accusations by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) and civic organizations that the second-generation health plan discriminates against certain groups, the Department of Health yesterday said that no plan could be “100 percent fair.”

Following a premium rate increase on April 1 to help alleviate the National Health Insurance Fund’s deficit, the health department proposed a revised health plan to promote a “more fair” insurance system, which will be put to a third reading in the legislature tomorrow.

The bill involves a new scheme for calculating premiums based on total household income rather than an individual’s salary, as is the case under the current -system. The change is considered essential to saving the cash-strapped program.

However, the proposed amendments to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) plan are not without their critics.

Huang and civic groups, such as the National Health Insurance Civic Surveillance Alliance, claim the plan is being rushed through the legislature despite containing many controversial articles that have not been fully discussed.

“People like stay-at-home mothers and unemployed workers, who do not have personal income, will have their insurance premiums calculated based on the minimum wage, which is very unfair,” Huang said.

A person who is unemployed and looking for work must pay more money because his or her premium is calculated based on the minimum monthly wage of NT$17,280, while someone who is retired and living on a monthly pension payouts does not have to pay anything, she said.

Huang and the alliance also said that to encourage families to have more children, the fees for children under the legal age limit should be deducted.

In addition, the plan should also set a maximum amount for the percentage of the health insurance premium that individuals pay, as opposed to their employers or the government, Huang said.

The alliance said no viable solutions had been proposed to address a number of issues raised in countless hearings at the Department of Health. These issues included gaps in compensation, the price of medications and medical treatment, ways to eliminate medical resource waste and whether to include capital gains, overseas income and retirement pensions in the calculation of household income.

Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) said no plan is “100 percent fair” and can please everyone.

Regarding concern that the government was “robbing” the taxpayers of money to address the system’s financial troubles, Yaung said a majority of people whose only source of income was their monthly paycheck and have one or more dependents would not see a rise in their insurance premium fees.

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