More than half of the public is dissatisfied with the National Health Insurance (NHI) program’s selective self-paid health service, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the insured’s health expenditures, according to a poll released by the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation yesterday.
The poll of 170 people was conducted between Sept. 23 and Oct. 15 via the foundation’s Facebook page and the Health Life section of the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board — to gauge their willingness to use medical devices or undergo treatments which are not covered by the NHI.
The results showed that as many as 74 percent of insured people polled would agree to non-covered medical services or treatment options recommended by doctors, most of which involve the newest medical technologies.
Despite the NHI program’s stated mission to make healthcare more accessible to the general public, 89 percent of those polled said they have to pay for uncovered treatments or medications up to five times a year, which could incur a medical bill of up to NT$30,000 each time.
When asked which branches of medicine often require self-pay treatments, 64 respondents said dental services, followed by orthopedic care, dermatology and gynecology.
Advanced technologies do not necessarily translate into high efficacy or effectiveness in treatments, as 59 percent of those polled said they are not satisfied with the self-pay treatments they have received, compared with 41 percent who said they are content.
Most respondents said because of information barriers between doctors and patients, they are often forced to opt for self-pay treatments without having a full understanding of their pros and cons.
Some of those polled complained that doctors seldom elaborate on why their conditions require non-covered treatments rather than those insured by the insurance system, saying that the explanation they often got was simply: “Because the [medications or treatments you need] are not covered by the NHI program.”
“Only by [providing more detailed information on patients’ conditions] can doctors avoid more incidents where patients are pressured into choosing medical services unsuitable for their conditions,” the foundation said.
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