Thu, Jan 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

DPP sets deadline to fix NHI premium

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said it was still opposed to the National Health Insurance (NHI) supplementary premium mechanism that took effect on Tuesday and said it would give President Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration three months to reconsider the policy.

“The DPP strongly opposes the mechanism because of its unfairness, inconvenience, inefficiency and illegality, which will negatively affect all of society and the NHI,” DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said yesterday after the weekly meeting of the party’s Central Standing Committee.

That is why the DPP is giving the Ma administration three months to review the mechanism and come up with a revised policy, he said.

“If the government fails to find a better solution after three months, the supplementary mechanism should be suspended immediately,” Lin said.

The mechanism, which targets different groups with differing incomes, was designed to generate revenue for the financially stricken national insurer and was added to the new NHI program, also known as the second-generation NHI, after the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) was amended.

The Department of Health had initially proposed that those insured would have to pay a 2 percent premium on any additional income of more than NT$2,000. That threshold was later raised to NT$5,000.

Asked about the DPP’s proposal, Lin said the party had always supported scrapping the supplementary premium mechanism and instead favored calculating the premium on household income.

The proposal to base the premium on household income was about to clear the legislature when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus changed its mind at the last minute and forcefully passed the supplementary premium mechanism, Lin added.

The DPP says that the policy could expose the socially vulnerable to abuse because they would have to pay a 2 percent premium on their additional income under the new system.

Moreover, it said that the premium rates for full-time and part-time workers in the same profession under the new system vary — which violates the principle of fairness stated in the Constitution.

In response to a media inquiry asking if the DPP would call on people to refuse to pay their premiums to put pressure on the government to amend the policy, Lin said the DPP would conduct further reviews and consult various civic groups and academics before resorting to such a measure.

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