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Ex-health minister speaks of NHI at U.S. Congress
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-03-12 02:07 PM
A Senate panel chaired by Senator Bernard Sanders was held on Wednesday, attended by U.S. congressmen and representatives of countries with a successful national health insurance system at less cost than the U.S., including Taiwan's former health minister Yeh Ching-chuan. Yeh shared stories of how Taiwan maintains a quality national health care program at lower cost.

Yeh was the first Taiwan's off-duty official ever testified at a U.S. congressional hearing, said the Central News Agency. Yeh indicated that the CPI-adjusted health care cost in Taiwan is one fourth of the U.S. thanks to its competitive health care service system.

Yeh also attributed the success of National Health Insurance system (NHI) to its single-payer compulsory social insurance program which centralizes the disbursement of health-care funds.

Some senators voiced concerns that Taiwan's program has been slow to permit new drugs and new medical technologies, but Yeh added that patients can still have access to the new services if they are willing to pay for them.

Taiwanese enjoy a high average life expectancy at 79.4 years and low infant mortality at 0.37% compared to other developed nations, said Yeh. Up to 99.6% of the nationals are covered by the NHI program.

In this hearing designed to learn from other major industrialized countries that provide health care service at lower cost to citizens, Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, cited World Health Organization data, saying the U.S. spends as much as three times more on health care than other industrialized nations. The health care costs have reached 18 percent of country's GDP in 2011, significantly higher than in France, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Great Britain, and Taiwan.

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