Health insurance premiums to be adjusted

(HK Edition)
Updated: 2010-01-28 07:35
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Higher rates for those who earn more than NT$30,000 a month

TAIPEI: Department of Health (DOH) chief Yaung Chih-liang said yesterday that public health insurance premiums will be adjusted this year to help prop up the cash-strapped system, although the timing is yet to be decided.

According to initial planning, those who earn between NT$20,000 and NT$30,000 per month will see their premiums remain unchanged, while those who earn more will have to pay more.

"Those whose economic means are in the bottom 25 percent will see their premiums cut instead of raised, while those in the 25 percent immediately above will see their premiums remain unchanged," Yaung said.

The insured in the 25 percent above that may have to pay an additional NT$60-NT$80 per month, Yaung said, adding that the top 25 percent could see their premiums increase by more than NT$1,000 per month.

Chu Tung-kuang, a DOH health insurance team co-convener, said that due to the sharp difference between the highest and lowest salary brackets, the team not only took into consideration the median of the highest and lowest salaries, but also the average salary level, when calculating the premium rates.

Health insurance premiums to be adjusted

Chu said the new measures will basically divide the insured into four groups based on their financial abilities, with each group paying different premium rate.

"Although the rate will not be lower than the present 4.55 percent," Chu said, "the financially disadvantaged will be subsidized in their premium payments."

Yaung said earlier that after the adjustments, the DOH will only see the system break even this year and will still not be able to fill the financial deficit of NT$50 billion.

He noted that the adjustment is the duty of the DOH and "not just an attempt to dodge the problem," which he said would be "irresponsible" if the program cannot be fixed and endless borrowing from banks is allowed to continue to prop up the system.

Noting that there will be a crucial election for the heads of five municipalities at the end of the year, Yaung said he could not ignore them, but added that a public health insurance system that continues to be shaky will be even more detrimental to the elections.

If everything is done merely for the sake of the elections, it will be bad for Taiwan's development, Yaung said, adding that he will continue to communicate with all sides, including his superiors.

China Daily/CNA

(HK Edition 01/28/2010 page2)