Reported by Lo Jen from Taipei
Lin Zhou-Yen, the MOHW Minister, expressed on the 29th of September that next year, there will be an increase in the co-payment for NHI-reimbursed drugs in the outpatient sector. Patients who visit the outpatient clinic in a medical center without a referral will see an increase of NT$60-100 in the co-payment for drugs. On the other hand, those with a referral will have a NT$40 cut on the co-payment for drugs. There are concerns about the double whammy of the possible price hikes in both drugs and tests. A visit to a medical center without a referral could cost a patient over NT$1000. Lee Po-Chang, the Director General of the NHIA, expressed that the hike in the co-payment for drugs will be implemented on outpatient sector only. The NHIA will wait for 2-3 years before assessing whether the hike should be extended to all sectors.
Pang I-Ming from the NHIA assured the public that the cost of a visit to medical centers for ailments without a referral will be under NT$1000.
Lee Po-Chang pointed out that the current co-payment rate is 20% with a ceiling at NT$200. Therefore, some patients like to visit medical centers for ailments just because of the east access to better medical resources, such as medication and testing, without considering that the total NHI budget is fixed. In the future, the NHIA will consider raising the ceilings of the co-payment for drugs and tests according to hospital grading.
Based on his own experiences, Lee Po-Chang reckoned that it is necessary to review the co-payments for not only drugs but also tests. The drug fees for ailments are comparatively lower than the cost of testing. In order to prevent the waste of medical resources, the NHIA will consider increasing the co-payments for both.
However, Lee conceded that there are no regulations of the price hikes; hence, the NHIA is not able to quickly conclude the new price. The NHIA will try to find a solution which is affordable to patients but will make them think twice. In the future, the NHIA may impose tiered co-payment for drugs in different hospitals, e.g. NT$200 for health clinics and NT$300-400 for medical centers.
Lee Po-Chang said that the NHIA will start to evaluate the hikes in the co-payment for drugs and tests across all sectors after the new co-payment for drugs in outpatient sector has been implemented for a while and patients no longer visit medical centers for ailments. Lee said it would take about 2-3 years.
【2016-09-30/ United Evening News】