Taiwan mulls new health insurance policy for citizens living overseas

Taiwan seeks to solve controversy over overseas citizens’ entitlement to NHI coverage

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NHI benefits for overseas Taiwanese a big issue. 

NHI benefits for overseas Taiwanese a big issue.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's National Health Insurance Administration Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) said Saturday (Sept. 19) the government is considering a new health insurance policy for citizens who live overseas but take advantage of the country's medical resources.

As Taiwanese continue to return from abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic, the debate over whether they should be allowed to share the same National Health Insurance (NHI) benefits as others has been renewed. Many Taiwanese believe that citizens who have lived and worked in other countries for many years should pay more than the minimum NHI premium to enjoy the scheme's welfare benefits.

The controversy first arose in 2016 when the China-based Taiwanese singer Huang An (黃安) returned to the island nation for medical treatment under the NHI program. He is infamous for opposing Taiwan independence and forcing Taiwanese K-pop star Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜), who was 16 years old, to apologize for holding a Taiwanese flag in one of her music videos.

Recently, the issue was raised again when a Taiwanese couple, having lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years, flew back to Taiwan to receive coronavirus treatment. Although, in the end, they had to cover their own medical expenses, there were still questions about loopholes in the NHI system since many overseas Taiwanese pay the lowest premium of NT$749 (US$24.5) a month without paying taxes in the country, reported CNA.

During a press interview Saturday, Lee said the government is mulling NHI reform to reduce abuses of the program. He said formal discussions will begin in October, but it is likely that Taiwanese will have to pay for NHI premiums even when they are overseas, if they are to take advantage of the benefits upon their return.

Lee also noted that many citizens are paying the minimum premium despite having a huge income in other countries. He said amendments will be made to prevent abuses of this kind and the government will adopt a tougher stance on the issue, reported New Talk.


National Health Insurance Administration Director-General Lee Po-chang (CNA photo)