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Talk of the Day -- New tax to save health insurance program?

2012/05/17 22:07:58

Former Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang has warned that Taiwan's national health insurance program would collapse if bold steps are not taken to improve its finances.

The outspoken former minister further warned Wednesday that if the health insurance system fails, President Ma Ying-jeou would leave a bad record.

In an interview published in a local newspaper Thursday, Stan Shih, founder of one of the world's leading PC vendors Acer Inc., suggested introducing a health and welfare tax on high income earners that would help support the ailing national health insurance system.

Shih said he shares Yaung's concern about the survival of the country's universal health insurance system and looks forward to seeing the wealthy pay more to help the health insurance system break even.

"My proposal would allow the rich to experience the joy of sacrifice and offer the disadvantaged better health care and medical services," Shih said.

He said if his suggestion is adopted, Taiwan's health insurance system could become a genuine model for the rest of the world.

The following are excerpts from the local media coverage of the national health insurance issues:

China Times:

Echoing former Health Minister Yaung's warning that the second-generation national health insurance scheme set to be implemented from early 2013 is not enough to ensure the system's survival, Shih said in an interview with this paper that he hopes the government will introduce a new health and welfare tax on high income earners to back continuity of the system.

"It would be extremely regrettable if our world-acclaimed health insurance system cannot survive due to its financial woes," Shih said.

As rich people tend to lack confidence in the government and are reluctant to make random donations to the government, Shih said the proposed health and welfare tax could be a feasible way to allow those whose income exceeds a specified level to pay higher premiums to help sustain the health insurance system.

Acknowledging himself to be a wealthy man, Shih said he is more than willing to be levied more under the proposed health and welfare tax system.

"We should first let our health insurance system make its ends meet and then pursue better health care for the disadvantaged," Shih said, adding that preventing wasteful use of medical resources is equally important in improving the health insurance system.

He also emphasized the need to improve working conditions and financial rewards for health care professionals, nurses in particular. (May 17, 2012).

United Daily News:

Yaung said at a news conference organized by the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation that the supplementary premium to be levied under the government-drafted second-generation national health insurance system cannot sustain the ailing health insurance system beyond 2015.

He said the fast aging of Taiwan's population would gravely worsen the health insurance system's financial woes in the coming decade.

Pointing out three major flaws in the current health insurance system -- unfairness in premium payment, unjust distribution of medical resources and sloppy hospital management, Yaung said President Ma should courageously take innovative steps to correct them.

"Otherwise, he will leave a bad legacy," Yaung added. (May 17, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)