The caps on bills for hospital stays are to be increased, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday, while the Social and Family Affairs Administration announced that more people would be eligible to employ foreign caregivers.
The ministry previewed proposed changes to National Health Insurance (NHI) rules to take effect on Jan. 1 next year.
Taiwanese would pay NT$50,000 (US$1,564) at most for a single hospital stay, up from NT$48,000, and NT$84,000 at most for hospital stays in a year, up from NT$80,000, Department of Social Insurance deputy head Chen Chen-hui (陳真慧) told local TV channel SET News.
Photo: Chiu Chih-jou, Taipei Times
People with a serious injury or medical condition, people from low-income families, disabled people and other disadvantaged groups are exempted from the planned hikes, Chen said.
Hospital stay copayments are adjusted as the average income changes in Taiwan, she said, citing the National Health Insurance Act (全民健康保險法).
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics has published national income data in the past year, prompting the ministry to propose the changes to the rules for medical bills, she said.
NHI copayments for a one-time hospital stay are 6 percent of the average income, while accumulated copayments for hospital stays in a year are 10 percent of the average income, Chen said, citing the act.
The proposed policy change would affect an estimated 10,900 people and increase hospital revenue by NT$233.7 million, she said.
The amendments are subject to change pending a 60-day public response period, she said.
Separately, the Social and Family Affairs Administration yesterday said that the government plans to broaden eligibility requirements to employ guest workers as in-home caregivers, which would benefit 600,000 households.
The government intends to extend eligibility to include people who have had at least six months of care, score higher than one in a clinical dementia rating, or have been diagnosed with a larger variety of physical or mental conditions, Social and Family Affairs Administration Director Chien Hui-chuan (簡慧娟) said.
The proposed changes would allow people with recognized physical disabilities or rare diseases, severe breathing impairments, or moderate swallowing function loss to hire migrant workers for in-home care, Chien said.
An estimated 300,000 families with members in long-term care, 200,000 families with members with dementia and 100,000 families with members with medical impairments would be eligible to hire foreign caregivers, she said.
Not all eligible families would make use of the new rules, as many are expected to be satisfied with their current arrangements, Deputy Minister of Labor Chen Ming-jen (陳明仁) said.
The Ministry of Labor believes that 20,000 to 30,000 families would employ guest workers as in-home caregivers, he said, citing the ministry’s experience with the caregiver industry.
The proposed regulations are scheduled to be promulgated this year and efforts to secure additional supply of foreign workers are under way, he said.
People on breathing machines or intubated would no longer need to be rated according to the Barthel index to be permitted to hire in-home caregivers from abroad, said Liou Tsan-hon (劉燦宏), deputy superintendent of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Shuang Ho Hospital.
Barthel scale certification is being removed as a requirement due to difficulties involved in transporting patients to hospital for testing and their day-to-day care, Liou said.
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