New health insurance rules proposed for overseas Taiwanese

Public complaints against foreign Taiwanese nationals viewed as abuse of the health system have led the government to reform the rules governing National Health Insurance (NHI) payments.

As part of the government’s efforts to reduce the national health system’s long-term budget deficit, the new regulations are expected to affect more than 170,000 overseas Taiwanese people.

Taiwanese citizens who have lived abroad for six months to two years can now suspend their monthly premium payments and get reinsured upon their return to Taiwan. The NHI rules apply to Taiwanese overseas based on the length of their stay abroad.

Following the reforms, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said that such a regulation will be abolished and that group will be required to make monthly payments for the insurance. It is usually mandatory for Taiwanese nationals to register with the NHI and those who fail to do so will be fined.

According to NHIA statistics, over 910,000 NHI payments suspended for their stay abroad for less than two years last year. They were exempt from paying a total of NT $ 448 million (US $ 16 million) to the insurance system.

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Lee Po-chang, Director General of the National Health Insurance Administration

Meanwhile, those who have lived abroad for more than two years and have their household registration automatically canceled will be allowed to suspend their NHI payments, but coverage will not resume until six months after they return to Taiwan, NHIA said.

If you want to be insured immediately, you can reimburse the premiums for the period of the suspension of the insurance cover after a new regulation. The maximum additional payment is limited to five months.

NHIA plans to discuss the new measures with the Overseas Community Affairs Council this week, and they are expected to take effect next year, said Lee Po-chang, director general of the cabinet-level health system administration agency.

reduce costs

Calls for a revision of NAB payment rules have a political aspect, with Taiwanese public figures residing in China using local health services controversial.

Huang An, a Taiwanese comedian based in China, has returned to Taiwan several times for heart surgery. In 2016, the BBC reported that he pays for insurance every month while Huang’s annual income exceeds NT $ 10 million (US $ 300,000).

One of Huang’s trips for medical treatment was estimated to cost the NHI an estimated NT $ 800,000 (US $ 24,000). Many in Taiwan accuse him.

Another figure who caused public outrage is Fanny Liu, a Taiwanese singer who will leave China for treatment in Taiwan if she contracts the novel coronavirus. You from the Democratic Progressive Party government.

The current NHI regulations have been widely criticized for allowing Taiwanese living overseas for extended periods of time to temporarily resume NHI coverage by paying a small premium when they return to Taiwan if they need treatment.


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People queue at a hospital in Taipei, Taiwan.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung should not apply the lowest premium to well-heeled Taiwanese citizens living overseas.

In the NAB system, the amount of income determines the amount of the premium. Overseas Taiwanese who do not work and earn no wages in Taiwan are automatically deemed to have no income and are therefore entitled to the lowest possible premium of NT $ 749 (US $ 23).

Despite the difficulties, Chen said, the wages of these Taiwanese nationals must be taken into account when determining the amount of the bonus.

Lee, who heads NHIA, is starting NHI reforms with avoiding waste. “If we can save the money we would otherwise have wasted, it can be used to treat cancer or rare diseases,” which is not fully covered by the insurance.

Increasing sales

While some need to correct the status quo that allows foreign citizens like Huang to pay premiums that are disproportionate to the cost of care they receive in Taiwan, the NHIA has considered increasing the premiums for the NHI in order to to reduce the deficit. It is the first such increase in ten years.

By the end of this year, the NHI expects a deficit of NT $ 67 billion (US $ 2.3 billion) and its reserve fund hits a new low with 1.88 months of premium income.

The current fee for the NAB is 4.69% of the sum insured, which is determined by the monthly wage amount. The rate to 4.97% or anywhere between 5.52% to 5.55%.

But civil groups are reconsidering the decision given the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Consumers’ Foundation urged the government to “feel the suffering of the people” by minimizing the increase and recommended the introduction of a new tax on alcohol or sugar to create additional revenue streams for the NHI.

The Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes patient rights, understand the decision to increase premiums, but the government needs to respond to issues that matter to the public and health officials, such as children.

As payers, not only do people need to have a say in how the state uses the bonuses, but they also need to be informed of what they can win after a raise, the foundation added.

The government favors the “least burdensome proposal on both employers and employees,” it said. A decision on the proposal is to be made by January 1, 2021.

CONTINUE READING: Taiwan secures 15 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine with ongoing domestic development

TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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