Sat, Jul 21, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Bureau offers service to stop NHI system abuse

MEDICAL PROBLEM:People who continue to rack up hundreds of hospital visits per year and fail to change after consultation will have their health cards blocked

Staff writer, with CNA

A person using his National Health Insurance (NHI) card managed to acquire medicine that under normal circumstances would take more than 22 years to consume, a health official said, drawing attention to consultation services provided by the government to help prevent abuse of the system.

The person, who suffers from ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma, was concerned about falling ill and decided to increase his dosage, said Lee Chun-fu (李純馥), an official with the Bureau of National Health Insurance.

To acquire new prescriptions and because he had a tendency to lose his medication, the man visited several hospitals for treatment, Lee said.

The man made 344 hospital visits in 2010, acquiring enough medicine for 8,134 days under normal circumstances, Lee said.

However, the patient has since then attended consultations provided by the bureau concerning the misuse of NHI resources, she said.

The consultations have proven to be successful, she said, with the man making only 173 hospital visits last year and acquiring medicine “for only 4,019 days of use.”

“The man is still undergoing consultations,” the official said.

Another patient who misused the NHI system in 2010 was recorded as having made a total of 1,078 visits to clinics or hospitals, Lee said.

After the bureau intervened and offered treatment, the patient, who suffers from joint and bone pain, made only 237 hospital or clinic visits last year, Lee said.

The misuse of NHI resources is one of the reasons why the program suffers from massive deficits. Last year, insured people sought medical advice or treatment on average 15.1 times, up from 14.6 times in 2010, according to bureau statistics.

To stem misuse of the mandatory national health system, which was set up in 1995, the bureau has been providing consultations to individuals who visit hospitals or clinics covered under the system more than 100 times per year, Lee said.

She said that most of the people misusing NHI resources either had incorrect ideas about seeking medical advice or treatment, or suffer from multiple diseases without being given integrated medical care.

The number of insured people attending special consultations reached 33,148 last year, dropping by 320 from 33,468 in 2010, the bureau’s statistics show.

Despite attending consultations, some people still cannot stop misusing the system, Lee said.

If individuals continue to abuse the system, Lee said, her bureau would block their NHI cards and restrict them to visiting no more than four hospitals within a three-month period.

Eight people were on the restricted list in 2010 and 16 last year, the official said.

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