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Building on 20 years of success for Taiwan’s NHI

2015-04-16

The Hill.com By Chiang Been-huang - 05/04/15 06:11 PM EDT Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system is globally renowned for providing citizens with easy access to high-quality medical services. Over 99 percent of the population is enrolled in the single-payer NHI, while around 93 percent of the country’s healthcare providers participate. Basic premiums, which are shared among the insured, employer and government, are calculated on the basis of monthly salary and a set premium scale. Those qualifying as disadvantaged can have their premiums and copayments subsidized or waived if necessary. As the NHI has achieved universal coverage at an affordable cost, healthcare is not a financial burden for the public. These factors contribute to a system satisfaction rate of about 80 percent. ADVERTISEMENT But this healthy state of affairs was not achieved overnight. Since its launch in 1995, the NHI has faced funding challenges. Although the system was in the black for the first four years, rising user demand led to budgetary shortfalls, spurring the government of the Republic of China to set about implementing systemwide fiscal and structural reforms. By 2013, the second-generation NHI was in place, and oversight of the system tasked to the newly formed NHI administration under the Ministry of Health and Welfare. A key component of this change was the levying of a 2 percent supplementary premium on capital gains and unearned income, a measure contributing to the NHI’s newfound financial strength. Another step contributing to the success of the NHI was the adoption of the latest information technologies. These initiatives streamlined procedures and improved services, paving the way toward greater organizational efficiency and reduced administrative costs. The integrated circuit card is one of the most visible signs of IT innovation employed by the NHI. Issued to all system users, it functions as a link between patients and healthcare providers, enabling the latter to access a former patient’s recent medical records quickly and securely. The smartcard is also an invaluable tool in managing the spread of highly communicable diseases such as SARS. It allows monitoring of the infected, as well as accurate modeling of the dynamics and control of such outbreaks. As time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with medical issues and prescribing the correct medicines in a cost-effective manner, the NHI established in 2013 PharmaCloud, a cloud-based database of patient pharmaceutical records accessible by healthcare providers. This undertaking has minimized the incidence of prescription duplication and over-prescription, as well as the risk of harmful drug interactions. Buoyed by the cost and efficiency benefits of PharmaCloud, the NHI launched My Health Bank in 2014. The database allows users to access in less than 10 minutes their full medical data from the past year. These include records like hospital admissions, medical costs, outpatient visits and prescriptions. By easing access to personal records, it is hoped users will become more aware of their health and develop an appreciation of the need to lead healthier lifestyles. Equally significant is the use of an automated system for processing hospital claims and reimbursements. This contributes to the NHI’s administration costs of 1.07 percent of medical expenditures, the lowest in the world. The sizeable database of claims — which boasts leading-edge, internationally certified information security — also allows the NHIA to analyze trends and generate statistics. Going forward, decreasing birth rates and rapidly aging populations are the order of the day. Taiwan is no exception to these global trends, and its shrinking youth demographic will have to shoulder a greater financial burden. In estimating future demand for healthcare, the factor of aging must be taken into account. In 2014, the senior population in Taiwan stood at 11.95 percent, and it is estimated it will exceed 20 percent in 2025 and 40 percent in 2060. Because Taiwan has a low birth rate and extended life expectancy, it will soon have the fastest aging population in the world. This is to result in a shrinking income tax base, placing even greater pressure on NHI funding to meet outlays associated with caring for the rising number of elderly. Looking at ways of improving public health and slowing the rate of aging are two of the most important challenges facing the NHI in the 21st century and beyond. Chiang is minister of Health and Welfare for the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Building on 20 years of succes...

Medical tourism hotel opens in Taipei

2014-12-21

CNA / December 21, 2014, 12:00 am TWN TAIPEI--A wellness facility boasting three-in-one services — health management, cosmetic medicine and hot spring spa — opened in Taipei Saturday. The Taipei Wellness Center and Resort, funded by the Taipei City government and co-operated by Beitou Health Management Hospital and the Hotel Royal Group, is the first in Taiwan to combine medicine and travel, making it a major medical tourism milestone. The facility, which took four years to build, offers diversified services including physical checkups, health management, cosmetic medicine and hotel accommodation with hot spring baths. Lin Chi-hung, head of Taipei's Department of Health, said the new model is an important test for Taipei and Taiwan's ambition to develop medical tourism. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said Taiwan's medical standards, especially for full physicals, are well-known around the world, and foreign visitor arrivals are increasing by 1 million every year. The combination of tourism and medicine will provide a positive boost to the economy, and the medical and tourism sector, Hau said. Winston Shen, chief executive officer of the Hotel Royal Group, said the hotel will offer complementary services such as advice on physical fitness and sleeping problems. “This is a hotel whose services are health-oriented,” Shen said, estimating the hotel's annual revenues at NT$200 million (US$6.34 million).

Medical tourism hotel opens in...

Taiwan offers best, cheapest medical services in the world: survey

2014-10-30

Taipei, Oct. 30 (CNA) Taiwan offers the cheapest and best medical facilities for expatriates compared with any other country in the world, according to a recent poll that surveyed expats from more than 100 countries. "Nearly seven in 10 expats in Taiwan say they spend less on health care than they used to before moving -- compared with a global average of just three in 10," the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper reported Oct. 28, citing the results of HSBC's latest Expat Explorer survey. In terms of quality, about 66 percent say they enjoy a higher quality of health care in Taiwan than they did at home, which is against a global average of less than four in 10. "Taiwan is joined by the select few countries of United Kingdom, Thailand, Japan and Saudi Arabia offering high quality, affordable healthcare for expats," the survey report said. On the opposite side of the scale, experts in Brazil, New Zealand, Ireland and the United States complained about expensive and poor- quality health care, the Telegraph report said. The statistics are part of HSBC's latest Expat Explorer survey, which was conducted in April and May. A total of 9,288 expats from over 100 countries took part in an online questionnaire. "The Taiwanese health care system is coveted by health care tourists around the world, but its simple rules for expats and provisions for health insurance are what distinguish it from the pack in this year's Expat Explorer survey," the survey report said. "Upon relocation, all expats and their employers are required to register with the National Health Insurance system, which grants them access to medical and dental care," it said. "Contrary to how many expats feel about the paperwork involved with getting enrolled onto local health care systems, nearly seven in ten (69 percent) expats in Taiwan agree that organizing health insurance is relatively easy compared to a global average of 55 percent who said the same," the survey report said. The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office says in its guide to Taiwan: "Taiwan has adequate health and dental facilities to handle routine, emergency and outpatient treatment." As is to be expected of a developed nation, Taiwan provides health care facilities and medical equipment of good quality. Since 1995, it has had the National Health Insurance program, which covers nearly all of its citizens. The comprehensive program has won international praise. The health program's premium rate is 4.91 percent of gross earnings, with the employee paying 30 percent and the rest paid by the employer and government subsidies. (By Elaine Hou) ENDITEM/J

Taiwan offers best, cheapest m...

Taiwan ranked world's 2nd safest country

2014-07-09

Focus Taiwan By Oscar Wu and Y.F. Low (Photo fromLifestyle9) Los Angeles, July 8 (CNA) Taiwan has been ranked as the second safest country in the world behind only Japan, according to a U.S. website. The list of the "top 10 safest countries in the world to settle in 2014" was compiled by Lifestyle9.com based on crime statistics from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. With a crime rate variable of 16.26 and a safety rate variable of 83.74, Taiwan is one of the best places to live in terms of low exposure to violent crimes and robbery, the website said. It described people in Taiwan as friendly, tender-hearted and honest and portrayed Taiwan as a stable country where "women feel perfectly safe and not nerve-racking about what could occur, particularly going out at late night." "It is the country where you can find people who help you before you approach. Many tourists reviewed that they never felt danger in Taiwan," the website said. Japan topped the list with a crime rate variable of 13.11 and a safety rate variable of 86.89. The website attributed Japan's low crime rate to the Japanese culture, saying that "Japanese never involve in activities that brings shame to their country." The 2010 Global Peace Index compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace ranked Japan as the third most peaceful country in the world, the website noted. Ranked third to 10th were Hong Kong, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Malta, Luxembourg, Georgia, Bahrain and Singapore. The Executive Yuan, or Taiwan's Cabinet office, welcomed the news and said the government will continue its work to improve the living environment of the people.

Taiwan ranked world's 2nd safe...

New medical tourism service offers aerial tours of Taiwan

2014-07-02

A Taipei-based health care company has recently launched a partnership with the Aerospace Industrial Development, a major aircraft and parts maker in Taiwan, to offer new medical tourism services that will include aerial tours. The Show 101 Royal Health Care said it signed a cooperation agreement with AIDC on June 27 that features tour packages that combine sight-seeing with medical services. The service is now available, the health facility told CNA Monday. The tour package is aimed at international travelers, business travelers and retirees who can enjoy relaxing trips provided by AIDC's flight service after they have used Show 101 facilities for physical check-ups or medical beauty treatment, according to the company. "We are targeting customers from countries such as Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand," said a spokeswoman for the Show 101 Royal Health Care, part of the Show Chwan Health Care System. The health care system has several hospitals around Taiwan providing customer-oriented medical services, including checkups and advanced treatment. What makes the package different from others is the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Taiwan through aerial tours provided by AIDC in a seven-seater airplane. Passengers will be accompanied by a Show Chwan Health Care coordinator to ensure they are in appropriate physical condition, said Show 101 Royal Health Care. AIDC pilots will provide guided tours either in Chinese or English and customers will have three options to choose from: north line, south line and round-island line, it said. The tours will allow passengers to view landmark buildings and popular tourist attractions from on high, it added. "The trips are designed to demonstrate breathtaking aerial views of Taiwan," said AIDC president Butch Hsu in a statement. The new medical tour service comes amid a growing market in Asia for the medical service industry, the statement said.

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