Ma discusses health insurance at meeting


TAIPEI — President Ma Ying-jeou shared the experience of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) program with health officials, executives and experts of international medical institutions, and medical specialists from more than 30 countries Sunday at the opening ceremony of the two-day 2015 Global Health Forum in Taipei.

Describing the NHI program as a valuable asset of Taiwan, Ma pointed out the program’s universality, comprehensive and uniform benefit package, and affordability.

As one of the country’s most highly valued public policies, the NHI program has maintained a nearly 80 percent satisfaction rate in recent years, according to the president. He said that since the program was put into force in 1995, 99 percent of the population have been covered by the program, including foreign workers and foreign students. Revisions in 1999 and 2001 expanded the coverage to local people’s spouses who are originally from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, as well as foreigners who are not employed but can prove that they have stayed in Taiwan for a certain period.

The second-generation NHI program, in force since January 2013, also covers prisoners, said Ma.

He mentioned specifically that affordability is a great advantage of the NHI program, using the example of his own experience of facing huge medical bill in the United States in 1975 because his student insurance only covered half of the US$3,000 medical expenses for treating a knee injury. In Taiwan, the co-pay for hospitalization is now 10 percent for the first 30 days and 20 percent for days beyond 30 days.

In additiojn to providing quality healthcare to people at affordable cost, the NHI program is equal and fair. People covered by the program can choose doctors and hospitals from more than 25,000 contracted facilities, he added.