Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday called for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration to suspend the implementation of the second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) premium, saying that it is flawed, and instead urged the government to amend related regulations if necessary.
The mechanism, designed to generate revenue for the financially-stricken NHI, would not achieve its NT$23.6 billion (US$805 million) goal, DPP lawmakers Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) and Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) told a press conference.
With 90 days to go before the levy is scheduled for implementation, there are a number of major problems with the controversial supplementary premiums mechanism, Chen Chieh-ju said.
The supplementary premiums — which were added to the proposed new NHI program after the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法) was amended — targets different groups with differing incomes.
The Department of Health had previously proposed that those insured would have to pay a 2 percent premium on any additional income over NT$2,000. That threshold was later raised to NT$5,000.
However, the definition of “bonus” has been vague and it is believed that both insured parties and employers are likely to search for legal loopholes by splitting their savings accounts or listing their bonuses as a separate source of income, Chen Chieh-ju said.
The mechanism could also allow for the abuse of the socially vulnerable, including those who have to work part-time, because under the new system they would have to pay a 2 percent premium on every paycheck, she added.
The premium rates for full-time and part-time workers in the same profession within the new system are different and this amounts to a violation of the principle of fairness as protected by the Constitution, she said.
“The DPP caucus calls for the suspension of the implementation, a thorough review of the mechanism and an amendment of the law if necessary,” she said.
Liu said the complicated mechanism would make collecting premiums a difficult task.
Liu added that if the regular premium rates, which still remain undecided, were reduced from 5.17 percent to 4.91 percent — a tactic to avoid public anger — the NHI is likely to face financial difficulties again in 2016, when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is no longer in office.
The DPP has always supported scrapping the supplementary premiums mechanism and instead has argued for a premium to be charged based on household income, Chen Ou-po said, adding that raising regular premium rates would be another option.