(The New York Times) - William Hsiao is a professor of economics at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the 2004 book “Getting Health Reform Right.” He served as a health care adviser to the Taiwan government in the 1990s, when officials decided to reform that country’s health care system and to introduce universal coverage. He spoke with Anne Underwood, a freelance writer.
Q. Taiwan instituted universal insurance in 1995. What was the health care system like before? A. Only a portion of the people were insured, including civil servants, employees of large firms and farmers. The military had its own system of coverage. But 45 percent of the population did not have insurance, and they faced financial barriers to access to health care. President Lee Teng-hui felt strongly that he wanted to do something concrete and visible for all the citizens. He thought of introducing national health insurance to touch the lives of all the people.
The Korea Times: Opinion editorial by Chiu Wen-ta, Taiwan's Minister of Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) attaches great importance to the establishment of health care systems. Its 2010 World Health Report focused on universal health care, and the 2012 World Health Assembly has chosen for its theme “Toward Universal Coverage” ― indicating global recognition of the need to establish sound and comprehensive health care systems.
Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) program, launched 18 years ago, has received affirmation at home and abroad. The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) have separately produced programming highlighting the NHI. This year, Cable News Network (CNN) aired a report on the medical and health care systems of Taiwan, the U.K. and Switzerland, lauding Taiwan’s success with its program.
Focus Taiwan News Channel: Former Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang has warned that Taiwan's national health insurance program would collapse if bold steps are not taken to improve its finances.
The outspoken former minister further warned Wednesday that if the health insurance system fails, President Ma Ying-jeou would leave a bad record.
In an interview published in a local newspaper Thursday, Stan Shih, founder of one of the world's leading PC vendors Acer Inc., suggested introducing a health and welfare tax on high income earners that would help support the ailing national health insurance system.
Shih said he shares Yaung's concern about the survival of the country's universal health insurance system and looks forward to seeing the wealthy pay more to help the health insurance system break even.
"My proposal would allow the rich to experience the joy of sacrifice and offer the disadvantaged better health care and medical services," Shih said.
The ROC delegation, led by Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, will showcase the country’s health care achievements at the WHA
Taiwan Today: On April 6, the ROC was invited by the World Health Organization to take part as an observer at the 65th World Health Assembly—the fourth consecutive year the nation has attended a meeting of the WHO governing body following 38 years of exclusion.
The ROC delegation, led by Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, will showcase the country’s health care achievements at the WHA. Running May 21-26 in Geneva, Switzerland, the assembly also serves to remind the world of the contributions Taiwan can make to strengthening the global disease-prevention network.
The ROC’s experiences in implementing its second generation National Health Insurance program will be of great interest during a conference session delivered by Chiu on universal health care coverage.