Reported by Chen Cheng-Chang
Cancers are not only a personal problem, but also a national financial issue. In the past years, the constant increase of cancer population has prompted the promotion of cancer screening. For individuals, cancer screening protects them from the disease. For the nation, it reduces national health expenditure. But, is it as effective as expected?
Cancer screening protects health and saves NHI finance
The NHI spending on cancer drugs continues growing. According to the NHIA’s data, the NHI spending on the 10 most common cancers in 2014 was: colorectal cancer (NT$10.9 billion), lung cancer (NT$10.8 billion), breast cancer (NT$10.3 billion), liver cancer (NT$8.4 billion), oral cavity cancer (NT$6.6 billion), leukaemia (NT$4 billion), NHLs cancer (NT$3.9 billion), prostate cancer (NT$3.1 billion), stomach cancer (NT$2.5 billion) and oesophageal cancer (NT$2.3 billion). Colorectal cancer has been on the top of the spending chart for a few years in a row.
The NHIA expressed that, in the past three years, the average annual growth rate was 5.8% for health spending, 6.9% for drug fees and 4.8% for the total number of hospital visits. Drug fees have seen the highest growth.
The NHIA pointed out that cancers have the highest increase rate and incidence rate among all health conditions. It indicates the importance of cancer care and treatment. The NHI has been introducing effective new drugs and relaxing the reimbursement conditions in order to better treat the patients while keeping the NHI finance sustainable. The NHIA expressed that the increase in cancer drug fees is due to the provision of treatments for patients who did not respond well to first-line treatments, and the reduction in co-payment of drug fees.