Sun, May 29, 2016 - Page 3 News List

NHIA plans to unlock about 42,000 insurance cards

DISADVANTAGED GROUPS:About 820,000 people have defaulted on their NHI payments, with about 42,000 of their cards locked for serious defaults, an official said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said that it is planning to unlock about 42,000 insurance cards that had been locked due to payment defaults by the end of next month at the earliest.

During the presidential campaign, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) pledged to abolish the NHI card lock mechanism to protect disadvantaged or minority groups.

NHIA insurance affairs division head Yeh Feng-ming (葉逢明) said there are about 820,000 people who have defaulted on their NHI payments, adding that about 42,000 people’s cards have been locked due to serious defaults, rendering them unable to have their medical expenses covered by the NHI.

However, after considering that the right to receive medical treatment should be a universal right and to avoid the possibility that disadvantaged minorities might think that they are being denied medical treatment, the government decided to unlock the cards, Yeh said.

Unlocking the cards does not need to be approved by the legislature and can be done once the Ministry of Health and Welfare officially implements the policy, he said, but added that it does not mean people do not have to pay NHI fees anymore, because the agency still has a payment reminder mechanism.

Yeh said that the NHIA would send reminder letters informing people that they should pay their NHI fees if they fail to pay for more than two to three months, adding that if companies do not pay NHI fees more than four months, or individuals for more than six months, the agency would hand over the cases to the Ministry of Justice’s Administrative Enforcement Agency.

National Health Insurance Civic Surveillance Alliance spokeswoman Eva Teng (滕西華) said that she agrees with the policy.

However, the government should come up with a solution for dealing with people who are deliberately not paying NHI fees, so that the policy would not encourage more people to skip payments, she added.

NHIA Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) on Friday afternoon confirmed the decision to unlock the cards.

However, certain details, such as measures for dealing with people who are capable of paying fees, but refuse to do so, needs to be laid out so the policy can be enforced, he said.

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