Pharmaceutical News
Medical Care Act Amendment to scrap the price ceiling of private treatments

Reported by Deng Quei-Feng from Taipei

The MOHW officially announced the amendment of the “Principle for Charging Medical Treatments”.  The amendment scraps the ceiling price of medical treatments provided by non-NHI contracted healthcare providers and scraps the NHI-contracted healthcare providers’ charges to foreigners for medical treatments.  Hospitals welcome this decision.  However the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation (THRF) urged hospitals to publicize their fee charges to avoid controversy.

The development of international medical tourism is one of the key points of President Tsai’s New Southbound Policy.  Shih Chung-Liang, Director of the Department of Medical Affairs of the MOHW, explained that the cost for private treatments used to be kept under the ceiling price of twice of the NHI charges. The MOHW decided to break the price ceiling of private treatments, as well as the price ceiling of treatments for foreigners.  The MOHW hopes the amendment could help boost the international medical tourism industry. 

Shih Chung-Liang stressed that hospitals will have to submit relevant data, such as treatment facility standards, cost analysis and market prices, to local authorities for assessment and justification.  The MOHW will not allow unreasonable price hikes.

Kuo Nai-Wen, Head of the School of Public Health of the Taipei Medical University, expressed that it is unreasonable to charge foreigners the NHI prices for world-class medical treatments in Taiwan.  An increase of the price will help hospitals to upgrade their game.

However, there is opposition to this new policy.  Some people worry that the policy will intensify the financial competition among hospitals, prompt famous doctors to leave the NHI system or even lead to a crowding out effect which affects the public’s rights.

In reply to this concern, Shih Chung –Liang expressed that over 90% of the hospitals in Taiwan are NHI-contracted hospitals.  The private treatment sector is actually quite small. 

Hong Tze-Jen, Vice Superintendent of the Hsin-Kong Memorial ­Hospital, expressed that the market size of international medical tourism is under NT$10 billion a year, just a small fraction of the NT$700 billion NHI market. The private treatment market is mainly in urban areas, where healthcare resources are abundant.  Even if some doctors decide to walk out from the NHI system, the impact on the general public is expected to be very limited. 

【2017-10-16/ United Daily】