Thu, Dec 08, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Foreign students Tsai’s ‘collateral damage’: KMT

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang, center, and his colleagues in Taipei yesterday criticize government policy regarding Chinese, overseas compatriots’ and foreign students’ National Health Insurance contributions.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday said that overseas compatriot students and foreign students are the “collateral damage” of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policy of including Chinese students in the National Health Insurance (NHI) system, as they will have to payer higher contributions.

The president announced the proposals in late October, which would see Chinese students covered by the NHI scheme, but paying full premiums. The bill also removes 40 percent government subsidies on NHI premiums that are currently enjoyed by overseas compatriot students and foreign students.

The legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee discussed the amendment at a meeting yesterday.

KMT caucus secretary-general Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said the decision would mean that overseas compatriot and foreign students would have to pay at least NT$500 more per month for NHI coverage.

Under current rules, foreign students pay about NT$750 per month, while overseas compatriot students pay less, as they enjoy subsidies from the Overseas Community Affairs Council, Chiang said.

KMT Legislators Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) and Alicia Wang (王育敏) said that as a lot of overseas compatriot students and foreign students come from Southeast Asia, the new policy would be a slap in the face to the government’s “new southbound policy.”

Invited by the KMT to share his view, Huang Chen-feng (黃振峰), a foreign student from Malaysia studying at Soochow University, said he might stop studying in Taiwan if he is required to pay NT$6,000 more per year.

“I would hope that public hearings could be held before a final decision is made. I’m worried that this proposal would be railroaded through just like the labor law amendments were,” he said.

Chinese student Huang Luo yu (黃洛羽) said that as most Chinese students pay NT$500 per month for private insurance, he did not “see why we have to join the NHI if it is much more expensive.”

“Chinese students cannot even take part-time jobs here,” she said, adding that Taiwan has always been known as a place of friendliness and respect to human rights and she would hate to see that image fade among Chinese students.

Lin Nan (林楠), another Chinese student invited by the KMT caucus to the press conference, said he wondered why “Tsai Ing-wen displeases a group of people whenever she undertakes a reform.”

“It is OK if we do not benefit from subsidies, but a lower premium rate, befitting policyholders our age [who are less likely to use medical resources], would be better,” he said.

“No one has helped us understand the difference between the NHI and private insurance. The Mainland Affairs Council has not much to do right now, so it could tour schools to discuss the issue,” Lin said.

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