Wed, Mar 01, 2017 - Page 3 News List

NHIA seeks to curb lines with online referral system

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Even with medical center copayment fees set to rise next month and the National Health Insurance Administration’s (NHIA) online patient referral system beginning operations today, many people still believe that only treatment at medical centers and by renowned doctors can ensure quality care.

This belief has led to long lines for outpatient clinic appointments, with lines at appointment registration counters sometimes forming overnight, and even a profitable sideline in “queuing services,” where people charge anywhere from several hundred New Taiwan dollars to thousands of NT dollars to stand in line and make an appointment with prominent doctors for another person.

While long lines are common at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday reported the most difficult doctor to get an appointment with is Lyu Shaw-ruey (呂紹睿), an orthopedist at Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital in Chiayi County.

Lyu has become famous because many people believe he does not rush to recommend knee replacements, but prescribes other treatments or arthroscopic surgery first, the paper said, adding that his outpatient service is fully booked until August.

A person who takes commissions for helping people make appointments with famous doctors said sometimes it takes 20 people making telephones calls at the same time to actually ensure one appointment, and people who get an appointment with Lyu’s outpatient service usually have to wait at least six months to see him, while the waiting time for him to perform surgery can be one to two years.

NHIA Deputy Director-General Tsai Shu-ling (蔡淑鈴) has been urging people to drop the idea that renowned doctors are best and not to seek appointments at medical centers unless they are seriously ill.

Starting on April 15, people who directly seek treatment at medical centers without a referral from a clinic or smaller hospital will have to pay a higher copayment.

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