Doctors urge NHI to include Chinese medicine treatments
TAIPEI, Taiwan — For patients seeking Chinese medicine treatment on a more regular basis than Western-style medical treatment, cheaper medical bills for overnight surgery may become a reality as a group of Chinese medicine doctors are urging the National Health Insurance Administration (NHI Administration, 健保署) to include Chinese medicine treatment for several major illnesses into the National Health Insurance Program (NHI Program), according to the United Evening News yesterday.
During the initial implementation of the NHI Program, officials considered including Chinese medicine treatments, but later rejected the idea as regulations demand that medical treatment be based on “scientific evidence” for inclusion in the public health system.
According to Liu Lin-yi (劉林義), chief of the NHI Administration, around 7 million patients seek Chinese medical treatment every year. For severe illnesses, patients must either pay around NT$2,300 per night as inpatients for overnight surgery, or are forced to go to the hospital as outpatients on a daily basis, which often involves spending much time waiting in line.
Owing to these factors, a health care campaign group, the Alliance for NHI Program Oversight (民間監督健保聯盟) joined with Chinese medicine doctors to petitioned the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW, 衛福部), urging the government to agree to provide financial support for patients undergoing outpatient treatments.
Patients often need treatment for major diseases involved in the program, including cancer, strokes, head injuries, bone fractures, and dementia. “Patients should not be waiting in line everyday just because the medical fee is too high,” said Yang Hsien-hong (楊賢鴻), director of the Chinese Medicine Department of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (林口長庚醫院).
Trial Program Looks to NT$300 Million
According to the United Evening News, the first step is to conduct a trial program at 10 hospitals around the nation. The NHI Program will cover NT$2,500 for each bed. An estimated NT$300 million will be required.
Ko Fu-yang (柯富揚), secretary-general of the National Union of Chinese Medial Doctors’ Association, R.O.C. said that this would not only benefit patients, but also the research and development of Chinese medicine treatments, as doctors will be able to train and learn from more clinical practices.
In response, MHW officials said that they will take the petition into consideration once it is received.