Taiwan’s Bureau of National Health Insurance Faces Financial Woes

The Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) is facing serious financial problems with a deficit of about $104 million. Last year, the BNHI borrowed $2.3 billion and owed $100 million in interest to pay for healthcare reimbursement. This year, the BNHI has taken out a $4.8 billion loan. This deficit has made it difficult for the Bureau to cover reimbursements to clinics and hospitals.

Because of these financial problems, the BNHI has proposed various policies such as increasing drug prices and increasing the NHI premium fee base. However, BNHI’s recent experience with drug price cuts has led to uncertainties in optimal drug pricing, especially with fluctuating supply and demand. Participants in a recent forum discussing “Policies for Drug Payment Standards,” hosted by the Institute for Biotechnology and Medicine Industry and the Economic Daily, suggested that increasing NHI premiums might be a more effective way to address BNHI’s large deficit.

The proposed increases in NHI premiums would be different depending on income levels. For example, single military servicemen, elementary school teachers, and civil servants would see their premiums increase by about $1 per month. However, for high-income groups such as skilled technicians, business owners and white-collar professionals, the premiums would increase by $9 per month.

As these increases in NHI premiums would affect almost 7 million people, the BNHI has proposed a simultaneous increase in minimum monthly incomes for certain groups. These groups include farmers, elementary school teachers, civil servants, military servicemen and low-income households. Monthly incomes would increase from $575 to $602 in this plan.

The BNHI will need to resolve its financial problems to ensure it can continue to cover reimbursement. Without reimbursement, patients will have higher out-of-pocket expenses, leading many unable to get the healthcare they need.