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Spending reforms vital for saving health insurance program: experts

2011/04/14 18:39:01

Taipei, April 14 (CNA) The key to saving the cash-strappednational health insurance (NHI) system lies in the reform of itsspending structure, experts said Thursday.

Chiang Tung-liang, dean of the College of Public Health atNational Taiwan University (NTU) , said that although a recentlegislative amendment to increase premiums has temporarily saved thesystem from collapse, more attention should be paid to effectivelydistributing the additional resources.

"This is a sensitive issue that no-one wants to touch, " saidHuang Huang-hsiung, a member of the Control Yuan and an advocate offurther NHI reforms. "But we need to tackle the problem if we want asustainable health insurance system," he added.

Under the current system, for example, there is a seriousshortage of doctors specialized in pediatrics, gynecology, surgeryand internal medicine, Huang said. This is because although the workis more difficult, such doctors do not get paid more than doctors inmuch more forgiving areas, he said.

If the NHI payment system does not improve, there will be nodoctors to look after the country's children in the future, Huangadded.

Huang listed several other problems stemming from the existingexpenditure system, which include the waste of medical resources andthe difficulty in running municipal hospitals.

"There should be fairer regulations on who gets money and whodoesn't, " Chiang said. "We ask everyone to examine the problems ofthe NHI expenditure structure and think of improvements."

An academic conference on the issue is scheduled to take place onApril 16 in Taipei, with more than 380 expected participants.

(By Nancy Liu)