Reported by Wei Yi-Chia from Taipei
The government is going to provide international healthcare services in the Free Economic Pilot Zones to attract international health tourists. Hospitals can be operated in the Pilot Zones as corporations. Huang Da-Fu, Superintendent of the KFSYSCC, criticised this movement. Huang said that the healthcare system in Taiwan is very fragile at the moment, and the leaders of the healthcare industry not only ignore the possible impact of the commercialization of healthcare services, but also support the law amendment to allow the establishment of hospitals as corporations in the Pilot Zones. This move will thoroughly destroy the core value of the NHI, said Huang.
A loss of healthcare professionals
A forum for discussions and debates of the future of the Free Economic Pilot Zones was held by the Economic Department of the NTU. Huang Da-Fu said in the forum that the NHI system provides a security net for the poor, giving them access to medical treatments. This is our national pride. However, the policies of the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Service and the Free Economic Pilot Zones will divert the supply of healthcare professionals from the NHI system to the private market, worsening the problem of the shortage of doctors and nurses.
Huang Da-Fu stressed that he supports the development of international healthcare services. However, the government can simply relax regulations on visa to promote the health tourism industry; and in his opinion, there is no need to amend the law to allow hospitals to be established as corporations.
The commercialization of healthcare services affects the poor
Teng Xi-Hua, the spokesperson of the NHI Supervision Alliance, expressed that the government always claims that the international healthcare services in the Pilot Zones will not use the resources for the NHI. However, the resources are not just about money. It also includes human resources and facilities. The hospitals in the Pilot Zones will use their facilities outside the Pilot Zones as a backup. Whenever it is necessary, international patients can be examined, tested or operated in hospitals outside the Pilot Zones.
Teng Xi-Hua pointed out that a doctor is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week in the Pilot Zones. It accounts for 50% of a doctor’s capacity. There will be an impact on the man power serving the NHI system as doctors are attracted to the private sector due to better pay.
What’s worrying is that as the healthcare services become a commercial product, it will spark the competition of facilities and equipment, push up the healthcare costs and extend the self-payment items. It will increase the financial burden on the poor.
【2014-06-02/ Liberty Times】