Taipei, July 17 (CNA) A person insured under the national health insurance (NHI) system managed to acquire medicine in 2010 that under normal circumstances would take 22 years to consume, a health official said Tuesday, drawing attention to consultation services provided by the government to help prevent abuse of the system.
The person, who suffers from ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease and asthma, was concerned about falling ill and therefore arbitrarily increased his dosage, said the Bureau of National Health Insurance's Lee Chun-fu.
To acquire new prescriptions, and because the patient had a tendency to lose his medication, the person had to visit a number of different hospitals, Lee said.
The patient visited hospitals a total of 344 times in 2010, acquiring medicine that was enough for 8,134 days under normal circumstances, Lee said.
Since that year, the person has attended consultations provided by the bureau concerning the misuse of NHI resources, she said.
The bureau's consultations have proven to be successful, with the number of hospital visits being made by the patient dropping to 173 in 2011 and medicine "for only 4,019 days of use" being acquired, she added.
"The patient is still undergoing consultations," the official said.
Another person who misused the NHI system in 2010 was recorded as having visited clinics or hospitals a total of 1,078 times, according to Lee.
After the bureau intervened and offered treatment to the patient, who suffered from joint or bone pain, the number of visits to hospitals or clinics dropped to 237 times last year, she said.
Misuse of NHI resources has been a factor resulting in the system suffering from massive deficits. In 2011, an insured person sought medical advice or treatment on average 15.1 times, up from 14.6 times in 2010, according to bureau statistics.
To stem misuse of the mandatory NHI system, which was set up in 1995, the bureau has been giving consultations to individuals who have visited hospitals or clinics covered under the system more than 100 times in a year, Lee said.
She explained that most of the people misusing resources were found either to have incorrect ideas about seeking medical advice or treatment, or to suffer from multiple diseases without being given integrated medical care.
The number of insured people attending special consultations reached 33,148 last year, dropping by 320 from 33,468 in 2010, the statistics indicated.
Despite attending consultations, some people still can't get rid of the habit of misusing the system, Lee said.
If individuals continue to abuse the system, Lee said her bureau will block their NHI cards and restrict them to visiting no more than four hospitals in a three-month period.
Eight people were on the restricted list in 2010 and 16 in 2011, the official said.
(By Chen Ching-fang and Elizabeth Hsu)