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27% of health insurance money spent on critically ill: NHI

2012/06/27 19:29:29

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) More than 27 percent of Taiwan's national health insurance (NHI) premiums was allocated for the treatment of critically ill patients in 2011, the Bureau of National Health Insurance (NHI) said Wednesday.

A total of 27.2 percent of NHI premiums was spent on medication for the 861,826 patients in the country as of the end of 2011 who were suffering from critical illnesses that are especially costly to treat, such as cancer, hemophilia and kidney failure, according to statistics released by the NHI.

The patient number was down 1.1 percent from 2010 and accounted for 3.71 percent of the total population, said Lin Are-ming, a senior NHI executive.

However, the number of the cards issued to sufferers of critical diseases rose 5.4 percent to 918,720, resulting in a 5 percent increase in overall expenses, Lin noted.

The top five critical illnesses in Taiwan are cancer, chronic mental illness, autoimmune disease, kidney disease and congenital and chromosomal abnormalities, according to the press release.

Medical expenses for treating these patients in 2011 amounted to NT$139.12 billion (US$4.65 billion), an increase of 3.7 percent from the previous year, Lin said.

He added that the average annual medical costs per person were the highest for the 970 patients suffering from hemophilia, reaching more than NT$2.74 million compared with the national average of NT$22,153.

The average figure is about NT$660,000 for patients on respirators and NT$550,000 for dialysis patients, statistics show.

Within the structure of the NHI program, it requires 198 people to help one hemophilia patient but only 36.7 people to support a dialysis patient, said the NHI.

This demonstrates the spirit of "mutual aid" in Taiwan's universal health care system, Lin added.

(By Lung Jui-yun and Kendra Lin)