The NHIA keeps cutting down drug prices in order to close the “drug price black-hole”. Some people applaud the NHIA for this move; but some doctors express their concerns over the impact. Dr Hung Hou-Yun, a former chief resident of the NTUH, said: “Daily drug fees are now cheaper than ice cream!” Dr Hung said that the NHI’s low price policy has forced many original manufacturers out of the NHI market. Dr Hung pointed out that the intramedullary nails for treating diaphyseal fractures are no longer available; hence, patients have to use plate instead which prolongs their hospitalization.
Dr Hung explained that the NHIA only considers the manufacturing cost, while ignoring other costs, such as transportation and warehousing. The low price policy has put off many original manufacturers as they found out that the NHI price is not enough to cover their costs. As a result, many medical products were withdrawn from the Taiwan market, and become unavailable for patients in Taiwan.
Dr Hung took the intramedullary nails for treating diaphyseal fractures for example. There has been news about the discontinuation of product supply due to the NHIA’s 25% price cut. Many original manufacturers decided to abandon the Taiwan market. Recently, some orthopaedic surgeons revealed that operations have been suspended because the only set of tools provided by a local manufacturer is broken and the replacement will not be ready until the end of June.
Dr Hung criticized the NHIA for wasting money. Patients treated with intramedullary nails require shorter hospitalization than those treated with plates. It seems that price cuts save money; but, in fact, it increases the overall treatment costs.
Dr Hung pointed out that without adequate or advance medical devices, doctors will not be able to deliver the most satisfying treatment results. Patients who cannot afford self-payment options will have to put up with the treatment results achieved 20 years ago.
Prices of medical devices and drugs should not be cut without careful consideration. Shih Ru-Liang of the NHIA stressed that the NHI prices are set according to a formula. For example, the prices of medical devices are set at 115% of the actual transaction prices plus 5% management fees. There is a good profit margin. The NHI prices should not be used as an excuse for manufacturers’ decision of withdrawing from the Taiwan market, said Shih.
【2014-06-16/ Now News】