NHIA considers expanding free coverage for over-65s
The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) announced on Thursday that it is looking into the possibility of extending free national health insurance to individuals aged 65 and above who meet specific criteria.
During a cabinet press briefing, NHIA Director General Shih Chung-liang explained that the initiative would include individuals in the specified age group who are not beneficiaries of health insurance subsidy programmes offered by central or local governments, and whose financial means fall below a certain tax threshold.
Those eligible also include seniors who are unemployed and not receiving financial support from family members, with the program slated to begin in 2025. Shih also added that veterans whose national health insurance is subsidised by the Veterans Affairs Council will not be eligible for the waiver. He estimated that under 700,000 individuals would benefit from such a programme.
In related news, TPP chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je says Taiwan should increase its healthcare spending to 8% of GDP to solve problems with the National Health Insurance system and fund comprehensive nursing care services.
Speaking about his healthcare platform at a news conference in Taipei, Ko says Taiwan's healthcare spending currently accounts for 6.6% of the nation's GDP, but in fact, only about 3.3% is used on the NHI system, while the rest is used on services not covered by NHI, as well as funding the Health Promotion Administration.
Ko also points out that Taiwan's healthcare spending is below the average of 9.7% spent by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and as Taiwan becomes an increasingly aging society, Ko says the government needs to introduce comprehensive nursing care that is jointly paid for by the government and the public, to prevent extreme costs from overwhelming the average citizen.
Meanwhile the KMT legislative caucus is calling for new rules in medical insurance to offer better service for cancer patients. KMT lawmaker Zeng Ming-zong says with the advancement of medical technology, chemotherapy no longer requires hospitalisation, yet insurance companies still make it a basis for compensation.
The Cancer Hope Foundation, a civil group, points out that the main obstacle to claiming insurance payment is the requirement for hospitalization, which accounts for 47%.
Other civil groups were also advocating for the inclusion of new drugs in the National Health Insurance system to ease the burden on cancer patients. Zeng says the health ministry should carry out a thorough review of insurance claims terms, and together with the Financial Supervisory Commission to propose solutions.