NHI set to clamp down on early medication refills

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Oct 09, 2013 - Page 4

Medical facilities that allow early refills of prescriptions for chronic hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes may face punishment through a reduction in the drug payments made by the National Health Insurance (NHI), the National Health Insurance Administration said yesterday.

As the public has been extremely concerned about controlling NHI expenditures and reining in the overuse of medical resources, various programs have been initiated, such as integrative outpatient services — to minimize patients’ visits and the monitoring of their medication history — and the home visiting program targeting those who take too many visits to hospitals, the agency said.

According to the agency’s statistical data, the total drug payment made by the NHI for chronic diseases was NT$68.1 billion (US$2.32 billion), of which NT$25.7 billion was for high blood pressure, NT$8.7 billion for diabetes and NT$2.5 hyperlipidemia. Together, the medication payment for the three chronic illnesses accounts for 54 percent of the total drug payments.

National Health Insurance Administration official Tzeng Wen-fu (曾玟富) said that about 4,000 clinics in the country offer prescription refills for patients with chronic illnesses, and about 200 of those clinics will be affected by the new policy that is to take effect starting on Nov. 1.

Patients usually request early refills for reasons such as traveling abroad, medication loss or dosage adjustments, said Tzeng, adding that between 80 percent and 90 percent of the patients refill their prescriptions at the same clinic.