Wed, Jun 08, 2016 - Page 3 News List

NHIA announces blocked health cards to be reinstated

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) yesterday announced that insurance cards that were blocked because of defaults on payments have been reinstated and three principles would be implemented to recover fees that some people refuse to pay.

Lee said the reinstatements were made because the right to healthcare has become a universal human right, and the National Health Insurance system was implemented to enhance public health and protect the rights of residents.

The agency said that with its measures to help vulnerable groups in the past few years, the number of people with locked NHI cards — meaning they are unable to receive NHI-covered treatment — fell from about 693,000 people in 2007 to about 42,000 people in April.

Insurance Affairs Division head Yeh Feng-ming (葉逢明) said that 80 to 90 percent of people with locked insurance cards are in the lowest tax bracket, while some have dependents, living on the brink of poverty.

Lee said some people might be concerned that unlocking the cards would encourage payment delinquency, so aside from referring the cases to the Ministry of Justice, it would also implement three principles to improve payment collection.

First, the administration would examine the NHI database every month and ask the ministry’s Administrative Enforcement Agency to dock pay from insurance arrears, Yeh said.

Second, for those with insurance arrears who earned money from interest, stocks or rent, the NHI will collect details about those earnings and the enforcement agency will dock the payments.

Third, for those without a salary, stocks, or other earnings that could be used to pay defaulted insurance fees, the NHIA can inspect their income or property and refer the case to the enforcement agency within a 10-year span, he said.

Lee said that losses due to payment defaults in the past five years added up to approximately NT$2 billion (US$61.8 million), which the enforcement agency is working to collect, but with annual NHI revenue being about NT$570 billion, the policy of unlocking cards will not greatly affect operations.

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