TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said on Thursday (Nov. 26) it is working on new regulations to stop Taiwanese nationals living overseas from taking advantage of the healthcare system.
The new rules under consideration would only allow those living overseas for more than two years and who have had their household registration automatically suspended to temporarily halt their health insurance payments, said Lee Po-chang (李伯璋), director-general of the NHIA, CNA reported. Lee added that national health insurance (NHI) coverage can be resumed six months after returning to Taiwan.
Those affected by the new regulations can also resume coverage by paying the premiums for the period it was suspended, with the maximum back payment capped at five years. Over 170,000 Taiwanese living abroad would be affected by the new changes, Lee said.
According to the current rules, there are three categories for citizens living overseas: those who go abroad for six months to two years, those who are abroad for two to four years, and those who leave the country for over four years.
Current regulations allow Taiwanese living abroad for more than six months to two years to temporarily suspend payment of their health insurance premiums. The problem is that some of these people then come back to Taiwan when they need treatment and are allowed to temporarily resume NHI coverage by only paying a fraction of the premiums missed while abroad.
Citizens who leave Taiwan for two to four years have their household registration automatically suspended which means they do not qualify for national health insurance coverage. Insurance coverage is restored only after household registration is reactivated.
Those living abroad for more than four years and who have had their household registration suspended can restore their NHI coverage six months after they return to the country.
According to NHIA statistics, the most common reason for overseas Taiwanese who are gone for six months to two years and return to Taiwan for medical treatment is for dental care, followed by acute upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, eye inflammation, and upper respiratory tract infections.