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Taiwan eyes Uber-style caretaker system for hospitals

COVID-19 prompts country to rethink national health insurance policy

Medical workers helping a senior (Facebook, Ko Wen-je photo)

Medical workers helping a senior (Facebook, Ko Wen-je photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The coronavirus pandemic has spurred Taiwan to recalibrate its National Health Insurance (NHI) policies as the Cabinet discusses the budget for next year.

The budget revealed some of the policy objectives set out by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) to improve public health services. A focus will be placed on establishing an “Uber-style” system in which trained caretakers will be dispatched to hospitals where the need arises.

The plan is in response to cluster infections that broke out at hospitals during the local COVID-19 surge. The clusters have been partly blamed on restrictions on visitors of patients and the mismanagement of caretaker staff, UDN quoted Shang Tung-fu (商東福), director-general of the ministry's Department of Social Insurance, as saying.

The mechanism will be set up using public funds, and the care service will be provided to patients at reasonable prices, Shang added.

In addition, the ministry is aiming to enhance contactless treatment and promote the use of a virtual NHI card, which is more convenient for patients with chronic conditions who would otherwise require regular hospital visits.

The NHI budget earmarked is between NT$793.5 billion (US$28.3 billion) and NT$818 billion for 2022, representing an annual rise of 1.27-4.4 percent. The plan is being drafted to take into account factors such as the country’s finances, economic growth, affordability to citizens, and the impact of COVID on medical supplies.

Updated : 2022-05-28 01:48 GMT+08:00