The New Taipei City Medical Association on Aug. 7 held a forum on improving the sustainability of the National Health Insurance (NHI), gathering many experts for discussion. National Health Insurance Administration Director General Lee Po-chang said that Taiwan’s health care workers currently hold the NHI in poor regard and that changes need to be made to improve the overall environment. Director General Lee said that the NHI should implement better rules on drug prescriptions to ensure that resources are used efficiently and to ensure that timely care is provided to critical patients.
Director General Lee said that better implementation of the referral system is highly important, noting that it is more appropriate to treat certain diseases at regional hospitals, while other conditions should be directed to clinics. Due to Taiwan’s high access to health care, a majority 92 percent of the public is satisfied with the NHI. However, this outcome suggests that while the public is largely happy with the NHI, Taiwan’s health care workers remain largely dissatisfied, giving only a 30 percent overall satisfactory rating and further underlining long running challenges.
Director General Lee emphasized that the recommendation for commercial health insurance products to make up for the limitations in NHI coverage is not aimed at invoking classism, and that the NHI is no less responsible for providing care to the public. Meanwhile, while there are many cancers patients in Taiwan who require targeted therapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy; however, as many new cancer drugs have been approved via the accelerated approval process, there is a lack of long-term survival data, consequently, new cancer drugs are often expensive.