Fri, Dec 31, 2010 - Page 2 News List

DOH says new plan will ensure financial viability

NUMBER CRUNCHINGCritics are skeptical, saying that the hypothetical projected income and expenses in a new NHI fund plan would be unsustainable long-term

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff reporter

The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said a new health plan will ensure that the National Health Insurance fund is financially viable, but critics remain skeptical.

The Bureau of National Health Insurance yesterday said an initial projection of the fund’s financial condition shows that based on a 5 percent premium rate charged on regular income and a 2 percent rate on supplementary income, the fund would be able to balance the books for at least three years.

However, critics remain skeptical of the plan, saying that under the National Health Insurance (NHI) fund’s hypothetical projected income and expenses, the fund would not be sustainable long-term because the premium rate of 5 percent is lower than the current 5.17 percent.

“The DOH will try to convince us that the plan is sustainable, but only end up treating the public like ATMs once the fund begins to lose money,” said Eva Teng (滕西華), spokesperson of the National Health Insurance Civil Surveillance Alliance.

The supplementary income category is not stable income because its sources are the likes of stocks, savings interest and cash bonuses, she said, adding that the new plan, with a lower premium rate, is motivated by political ambitions rather than consideration for what is best in the long-term.

Teng also said that if the DOH does not manage to broaden the income base, it will tighten its belt on coverage and compensation, which will inevitably harm the quality of medical care.

An initial version of a reformed NHI plan proposed by the department failed to pass a second and third reading in the legislature on Dec. 7, forcing Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) to propose a new version, which he submitted to the legislature on Dec. 16.

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

The department’s previous proposal would have had premiums calculated based on total household income, rather than an individual’s salary.

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