Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) yesterday proposed an amendment that would include Chinese students in Taiwan in the country’s national health insurance program, but it drew a cool response from opposition legislators.
Ting proposed revising Article 9 of the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) to allow Chinese students studying in Taiwan to be covered under the national health insurance system after residing in Taiwan for six months.
Under the existing law, foreign students who hold residence certificates and have been in Taiwan for more than four months can apply for a national health insurance card. However, Chinese students are excluded from the program.
“Any such exclusion represents discriminatory treatment and a disregard for the basic human rights ... since foreign nationals working and studying in Taiwan are covered by the national health insurance program,” Ting said.
The lawmaker dismissed concerns the proposal would add to the money-losing program’s financial burden, saying that there would not be many eligible Chinese students.
Moreover, under the insurance program, premiums from young insurees generally subsidize care for the elderly. Thus, extending coverage to Chinese students is unlikely to lead to further financial woes for the program, Ting argued.
Ting also defended the need for the proposal arguing that discrimination against Chinese students would harm Taiwan-China relations and contagious diseases contracted by Chinese students could be spread if the students were not insured and were unable to get treatment.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said his party would not make a similar proposal and described the measure as unnecessary.
The KMT could have included Chinese students in the health insurance program by issuing an executive order without the need for an amendment, Ker said.
However, he indicated that his party would discuss legislative procedures after Ting submits his proposal to the legislature.
DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) raised the idea earlier this month, but it drew mixed reviews from within his party, which has generally been cool to opening Taiwan’s doors to students from China.