Some members of the NHI Board suggested that instruction drugs, such as cold relief, stomachic and ginkgo extract, should not be reimbursed by the NHI as they can be bought from pharmacies without prescriptions. The NHI spends NT$1.7 billion a year on these drugs even though the NHI Act clearly stipulates that such drugs should not be reimbursed by the NHI.
According to the NHI Act, OTC drugs and instruction drugs are excluded from the NHI Benefit Scheme on the grounds that they are relatively safe for treating ailments. Dr Lee Po-Chang, the Director General of the NHI, expressed that the NHI authority decided to reimburse those instruction drugs which were available under the labour insurance scheme and civil servant insurance scheme in order to smoothly introduce the NHI program.
Dr Lee Po-Chang said that the NHI authority has been working on this issue in the past 20 years. The NHI stopped the reimbursement of 176 items of stomachic in 2005 and 240 items of vitamin, electrolyte and enzyme in 2006. However, the implementation was suspended in 2015 due to legislators’ concerns over the financial burden on the vulnerable group.
According to the NHIA’s data, there were 1200 items of instruction drugs reimbursed by the NHI in 2005, costing the NHI NT$2.3 billion a year. In 2016, the number and cost were reduced to 928 items and NT$1.7 billion. Last year, the NHI spent NT$650 million on gastrointestinal and metabolic drugs, NT$300 million on respiratory drugs and NT$200 million on eye drops.
Hsieh Wu-Chi, the President of the Taiwan Community Hospital Association, reckoned that the NHIA should comply with the NHI Act and stop reimbursing instruction drugs. Dr Lee Po-Chang pointed out that this decision involves issues of graded healthcare and the separation of prescribing and dispensing. Patients don’t need to visit hospitals for ailments and should be aware of the concept of user fees, said Dr Lee.
Pursuant to the NHI Act, the NHI should stop reimbursing instruction drugs; but, the final decision is yet to be decided by the NHI Board.
【2017-10-26/ Now News】