Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Fees hiked to end ‘doctor drain’

MORE MONEY, LESS PROBLEMS:The NHI administration has approved raising fees paid to fields suffering staff shortages by NT$5.05bn to incentivize doctors to stay

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

In an attempt to solve the “physician drain” plaguing medical divisions treating acute, severe and complicated diseases, NT$5.05 billion (US$166.4 million) has been allocated to increase the fee payments made to these fields, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said yesterday.

To keep physicians from leaving the five divisions suffering an exodus of healthcare workers — internal medicine surgery; gynecology and obstetrics; pediatrics; and emergency care — the administration said it has adjusted the National Health Insurance (NHI) fee schedule to beef up the payments made to doctors in these sectors.

NHIA official Lee Chun-fu (李純馥) said that a total of 516 diagnostic categories in the five divisions stand to benefit from the adjustment, with surgery seeing the greatest increase.

“Internal medicine is to receive a NT$809 million hike in fees, with NT$1.505 billion allotted for surgery, NT$669 million for pediatrics, NT$992 million for gynecology and obstetrics, and NT$1.071 billion for emergency care,” she said.

Of the 516 diagnostic categories to be granted higher fees, 454 are operations, 46 are medical interventions and six are related to anesthesia, according to the NHIA.

The jump in payments being made for surgical procedures such as bronchoscopic removal of tracheobronchial foreign bodies is as high as 175 percent, the administration said.

Within the emergency care division, the three most urgent categories in the Triage and Acuity Scale are to receive fee raises. Level one cases — which are the most critical — will be granted an 80 percent increase in fees, with those in the second level slated to get 32 percent and third-level cases set for a 19 percent hike.

In obstetrics and gynecology, an upward fee adjustment of 119 percent has been granted to obstetricians taking care of women having their second child in a natural birth after having their first via a C-section, among other changes.

In pediatrics, 151 diagnosis categories are to benefit from the budget increase, the administration said.

Lee said the NHIA has informed the hospitals of the adjustments and requested them to dole out payment to physicians accordingly.

The administration will take steps to examine whether and how the distribution has been done at an appropriate time, she added.

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