Extra health insurance premiums that took effect last year under the second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) system have met government targets, the NHI Administration said.
The administration based its statement on the amount of supplementary premiums collected for the period between January and August.
It said it collected NT$24.8 billion (US$836 million) that had been imposed upon the non-payroll income of people insured since Jan. 1, adding that the amount could reach NT$30 billion by the end of the year.
High, medium and low estimates have been made according to 2008 financial and tax data, incorporating a calculation for premiums reduced due to people’s legal premium avoidances, it said.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Department of Social Insurance director Chu Tong-kuang (曲同光) said the low estimate was about NT$20.6 billion, while the high was estimated at about NT$33.2 billion.
“In fact [what we have now] is in sync with the trend of the high estimate, but since what we used [for reference] was the medium estimate, the amount achieved is better than what we expected,” Chu said.
“The number could go up to NT$30 billion or more this year if the trend is not interrupted. Based on these figures, there would probably not be a change to the [regular] premium rate next year,” he added.
The regular premium rate has been reduced to 4.91 percent from 5.17 percent with the rollout of the amended NHI system to alleviate the financial burden of policyholders, the agency said, adding that the supplementary premiums collected are therefore a form of compensation for a lower premium rate, not an extra source of NHI income.
The administration said that as the system only went into effect at the start of the year, a reliable estimate of supplementary premiums cannot be determined until implementation has been under way for a certain period.
As the country’s fiscal and economic conditions differ from year to year, it added, one year’s collection does not necessarily mean the same for the next year.
Taiwan Health Reform Foundation head of development Chu Hsieh-kuang (朱顯光) was also cautious, saying that the gap incurred by the lower regular premium rate “has resulted in a reduction of about NT$20 billion.”
“We are also worrying that collections will become more difficult as people become more familiar with the system and learn how to avoid payment,” Chu said.
He emphasized the need for the system to be changed to one that collects premiums according to total household incomes.
“Compared with a total household income-based system, the [amended NHI system’s] supplementary premium imposition, with its demand of extra premiums to be collected from six sources of income, is still a relatively unfair way of collection,” Chu said.
According to a Central News Agency report, the NT$24.8 billion collected by the administration consists of NT$10.876 billion from employers and employee group insurance, along with collections from policyholders’ income from the six supplementary sources.
The breakdown of income sources are stock dividends at NT$4.19 billion, big job bonuses at NT$2.44 billion, rent at NT$1.671 billion, moonlighting at NT$1.309 billion, interest at NT$939 million and professional practice earnings of NT$442 million.