Tue, Dec 07, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Yaung lauds revised NHI proposal

SEARCHING FOR BALANCE:The new system would be fairer for the unemployed who are currently forced to join the NHI at a monthly ‘virtual income’ of NT$21,000

By Flora Wang  /  Staff Reporter

A citizen yesterday passes by the Bureau of National Health Insurance, which said that about 60 percent of the insured will receive lower premiums once the second-generation insurance system is implemented.

Photo: CNA

Minister of Health Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) told a press conference yesterday that about 60 percent of people covered by the national health insurance (NHI) will have lower premiums when the second-generation NHI system is implemented.

“The new system will be to the advantage of more instead of fewer people” since most people in Taiwan have dependent family members and are salaried employees, Yaung said.

Department of Health data on NHI premium rates over the past two years shows that about 60 percent of the insured would have lower payments once the new insurance system is introduced, he said.

The legislature is set to vote today on the amendment to the National Insurance Act (全民健康保險法), with Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) vowing to seek consensus and to ensure that the new regulations benefit a majority of Taiwanese.

Wu said he hoped that whatever amendment was passed was the one that would have the most benefit and the least impact on the public.

“We have our expectations, but it all depends on the results of cross-party negotiations and review in the legislature,” he said. “We will respect the legislature’s decision.”

Legislators are scheduled to vote on the amendment despite major disagreements among lawmakers regarding the proposed premiums for the second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI).

Unlike the current NHI system, which calculates premiums based on an individual’s salary, the -second-generation NHI would do so based on total household income.

Legislators for the most part agree on the idea of calculating premiums based on household income, but political parties lack consensus on how to define household income.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus suggested the inclusion of capital gains, income abroad and the retirement pension available to civil servants and teachers in household income, a move which was supported by some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, but opposed by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Executive Yuan.

The KMT supports the DOH and the Executive Yuan’s version, which would determine the premiums for housewives and the unemployed by assuming a “virtual” monthly income of NT$17,280.

However, the DPP is opposed to the idea, saying that the scheme does not reflect reality and could harm the economically disadvantaged.

Yaung said that although it was impossible for the government to come up with a premium scheme that was satisfactory to everyone, the NHI’s finances needed to be reformed.

He also denied accusations that the government was trying to rip off the public with the proposed premiums.

Under the current NHI system, Yaung said, unemployed individuals are forced to join the NHI at local district offices and pay about NT$700 per month based on calculations using a NT$21,000 “virtual monthly income.”

“It’s as if we created a term [virtual monthly income] to rob the people; but are we really going to pocket the money? Such a proposed system is fairer than the current one,” Yaung said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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