The public will soon be able to check and compare the costs of medical devices not covered by National Health Insurance (NHI), and apply for and download their medical records online, National Health Insurance Administration Director-General Huang San-kuei (黃三桂) said yesterday.
The agency said it is launching 10 management plans targeting medical expenditures this year, among which are its cloud medication record system, the pilot program of post-acute care, community and home-based palliative and hospice care programs, and the plan to set up a Web site that makes transparent the price offered by each medical facility on self-paid medical devices.
With the cloud medication record system installed in July last year, it said, physicians and pharmacists can check patients’ medication records online and thereby avoid duplicate prescriptions and the potential health risks incurred by patients overusing drugs.
“Improving the transparency of self-paid medical devices’ prices, brands and quality, which will be publicized on the Web site, helps ensure patients’ right to information and lets them compare prices,” Huang told a press conference which was called to celebrate the health system’s 19th anniversary.
Other than the 10 management plans for controlling outlays, the agency has also been developing an electronic health record database called “My Health Bank,” he added.
People will be able to apply for and download, by using their citizen digital certificates, their medical records from the most recent year, which will include the dates they visited medical facilities, expenses paid, names of the medications prescribed, examinations and doctors’ orders, among other items.
“The reason for using the citizen digital certificate [instead of a National Health Insurance IC card] is to protect patients’ privacy, in accordance with the Electronic Signatures Act (電子簽章法),” Huang said.
“It should be noted that this is totally voluntary, with the policyholder seeking the record taking the initiative to request the information,” he added.
“Healthcare insurance is no longer just about emergency medical treatment, but also takes self-health management into account, and My Health Bank has been built to improve this end of healthcare,” Huang said.
Downloading a medical record is free of charge, agency official Chang Yu-hsuan (張鈺旋) said, adding that those who want a complete medical record not limited to the most recent year can file a request to the agency for a NT$300 (US$9.88) fee.
The agency also welcomed the second year of the second-generation NHI program this year, along with its addition of six sources of supplementary premiums — moonlighting, rent, interest, stock dividends, professional practice, as well as job bonuses that are more than four times an individual’s monthly salary.
“As of the end of last year, NT$33.1 billion has been collected as supplementary premiums, which together with the NHI cumulative surplus makes NT$85.1 billion, amounting to about 2.03 months of NHI safety reserve funds for insurance expenditures,” Huang said.
He added that there is no “overcharging” at this point, as the safety reserves cap set by the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) is three months.
Chu Tong-kuang (曲同光), director of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Department of Social Insurance, said authorities are reviewing whether it is appropriate to subject all kinds of moonlighting earnings as a single category to a 2 percent supplementary premium imposition, and may make adjustments.