Thu, Dec 16, 2010 - Page 2 News List

DOH chief says new version of health bill will be for everyone

MAKING IT FAIRER:Yaung Chih-liang spoke about revisions to the second-generation health plan to lawmakers, but was mum with reporters

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

Responding to widespread criticism that the National Health Insurance (NHI) overhaul has changed course one too many times, Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) yesterday told lawmakers that the latest version will “belong to everyone.”

Yaung made the remark at the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee meeting.

However, faced with questions from reporters regarding details of the new version of the second-generation health plan, Yaung was tight-lipped, saying only that he hoped the plan would gain support from the Executive Yuan and lawmakers.

The second-generation plan has been hailed as a more equal system that would resolve the financial troubles that have long plagued the NHI fund.

Discussed for almost a decade, the reform proposal originally mainly focuses on replacing the current system — which calculates premiums based on an individual’s regular salary — with a premium scheme based on household income.

Under the original proposal, households with similar incomes would pay the same premium regardless of the number of family members.

However, after the original proposal failed to garner a consensus from both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, as well as the Executive Yuan, the department is now working toward a “new and improved” version.

“Even though this [version] is now different from the original [proposal], the health department will do as the [Cabinet] and lawmakers suggest, so now the plan belongs to everyone,” Yaung said.

He declined to say what types of non-salary income — such as professional practice income, interest on deposits, profit from stock dividends and property trading, cash awards and bonuses — would be included in the revenue base on which premiums would be calculated.

He also refused to say if income would be calculated based on an individual’s salary, as is the current system, or the household’s, as has been proposed previously in the second-generation health plan.

However, Yaung said he expects premium rates to be lower than the current 5.17 percent because of an increased revenue base.

Yaung said that the second-generation plan would solve many other problems plaguing the current system, such as the issue of invalid NHI status for those who are unable or unwilling to pay their premiums and a more transparent and streamlined system for differences in drug price and NHI reimbursement.

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