Fri, Dec 24, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Groups pan revised NHI plan at legislative hearing

STILL UNFAIR:Critics, including a former BNHI head, said the proposed second-generation health insurance plan did nothing to address occupancy categorization

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

Civic groups and a former head of the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) yesterday expressed anger at the new proposed version of second-generation health plan at a public hearing held at the legislature.

Amid controversy surrounding the proposed amendments to the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法), legislators had agreed to hold public hearings yesterday and today by the -Democratic -Progressive Party (DPP) and the Department of Health (DOH) to gauge public opinion before putting the bill to a second and third reading on Tuesday at the earliest.

An initial version of a reformed NHI plan proposed by the Cabinet failed to pass a second and third reading in the legislature on Dec. 7, forcing DOH Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) to propose a new version, which he submitted to the legislature on Thursday last week.

Under the new version, an individual’s premium would be calculated based on income from interest on deposits, share dividends, professional practice income and any cash awards that are four times more than a person’s salary.

The department’s previous proposal revolved around calculating premiums based on total household income, rather an individual’s salary as is done at present.

Former BNHI chief executive Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) said he opposed the newly proposed health plan because the plan continues the current system’s categorization of occupations, allowing two individuals with the same income levels but with different occupations to be charged different levels of insurance premiums.

“By maintaining the current occupation categorization system [in the second-generation health plan], the same amount of income could result in up to 10 times difference in insurance premiums charged,” he told the hearing.

Chu added that it is unfair not to cap the supplementary income category, which includes earnings from sources such as stocks and interest, because people who own stocks are not necessarily high earners. Those who save a large part of their income are also being punished by being charged premiums based on such supplementary earnings, even though they may qualify as “wealthy,” Chu said.

National Health Insurance Civil Surveillance Alliance spokesperson Eva Teng (滕西華) agreed, saying that it was still unclear on what basis the DOH came up with the 2 percent premium charge on supplementary earnings.

“The newly revised health plan is even more unfair than the original second-generation health plan,” Teng said.

She blasted lawmakers and the DOH for not being able to devise a fair and sustainable health plan that would affect the nation’s medical industry and the welfare of the public for years to come.

The Consumers’ Foundation also joined in the chorus by saying that the second-generation health plan should keep its original proposal to calculate premiums based on household income, rather than going back to individual income and maintaining the categorization of occupations.

The foundation questioned the reason behind capping regular incomes such as monthly salaries, but not capping supplementary incomes.

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