Delays for New Medical Policies in Taiwan

The Taiwan Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) had recently announced its 6th drug price cut to reduce drug prices. This cut was to take effect starting September 1, 2009. Taiwan’s Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yang Chih-Liang has pushed back this date to October 1, 2009. Chih-Liang stated that his reasons were to ensure that medical rescues in areas affected by the typhoon would not be interrupted.

The magnitude of this drug price cut is quite large compared to past cuts. The biggest price cut in previous years was almost USD 500,000 with the average price cut about USD 100,000. With such large drug cuts, there would be a huge loss of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry.

The BNHI is also delaying the implementation of the Diagnosis-Related Group (DRG) system for a few months. The DRG system groups patients into categories depending on their diagnosis. Each category will receive the same level of medical treatment and use the same amount of hospital resources, no matter the patient. Critics of the plan have said that the DRG system is unfair and would not address a patient suffering from multiple issues properly. However, the DOH is set on putting in place the DRG system. The new implementation date may be as late as January.