Amid rising scrutiny over whether National Health Insurance (NHI) premiums will be increased, Premier Su Tseng-chang in a question and answer session at the legislature said that in facing the challenges of the NHI’s ailing finances, he will ensure the preservation of the system’s solvency under a “principle of fairness.”
However, Kuomintang Legislator Yang Chiung-ying in the session urged the government to reassure the public and refrain from implementing premium increases before the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Premier Su said that to preserve the solvency of the NHI, a fair reevaluation of the system’s users, premium contribution schemes and expenditure items including medical care and drugs is need.
Regarding Legislator Yang’s request to “freeze” premium increases, Premier Su said that he will not use such slogans, while reiterating the goal to ensure fairness and solvency of the NHI.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said that the law requires the NHI to balance its income and expenditure, therefore, there is a need to reexamine the monthly premium rate to ensure fairness and that patients’ needs are met, adding that the decision over the premium rate will depend on the mechanism linking the system’s income and expenditure.
In response to legislators’ questions on whether it is appropriate to initiate premium hikes in the midst of the pandemic, Minister Chen said that there are two opposing views on the matter. On one hand, the government should strive to ease the public’s financial burden in the midst of the pandemic. On the other hand, the pandemic provides the ideal timing for increased investments into health.
Minister Chen said that investments to health is extremely important, and a goal close to the hearts of the public. “We will take the path that leads to fair and appropriate adjustments to the NHI to ensure the system’s sustainability.”
Meanwhile, legislators asked whether the government will include the unemployment rate among the factors under consideration for potential premium adjustments in the future, to which Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming replied that Taiwan’s unemployment rate is quite low compared to other countries.