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Promoting NHI Card Application Services for Rural Areas

  Po-Chang Lee, Director General of the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA), indicated that the NHIA has always continuously cared for rural citizens in Taiwan. To make card renewal and reapplication services in rural areas just as convenient as access to transportation in urban regions, the NHIA submitted a proposal that allows citizens to visit its regional divisions or liaison offices in various counties and cities across Taiwan to apply for card renewal directly at the office counters. Thanks to the support of Justin Huang, Magistrate of Taitung County, and Kun-Chi Fu, Magistrate of Hualien County, as well as township mayors from Chenggong, Dawu, and Yuli Township Offices who strongly believe in servicing residents, the NHIA’s proposal was finally approved. Immediately thereafter, the NHIA collaborated with the magistrates and mayors in setting up service locations from which NHI insured can apply for and collect their NHI card within as little as 15 minutes.

  Lee stated that a user-friendly service should, in principle, consider service volume and administration cost, but these metrics are inadequate to measure the user-friendliness of services in special regions. For citizens living in urban or rural regions, they all have the same requirements for national health insurance (NHI) services, and the NHIA should regard them as being equally important. The Hualien and Taitung regions are spacious, with long and narrow terrains, and public transport in these areas is not as convenient as that in urban cities. Nevertheless, the NHIA successfully established three township offices as service locations for issuing NHI cards primarily in consideration of the uniqueness of the Hualien-Taitung region. In the initial phase, there might be low service volume in these three service locations; however, the ultimate aim of providing such services is to provide citizens in eastern Taiwan with convenient and accessible services through which to apply for and collect their NHI cards. This would help them reduce their traveling distances, transportation costs, and waiting times. Such cross-agency cooperation has facilitated the extension of card service locations, effectively manifesting the commitment of NHIA and township offices in servicing the public. Furthermore, the NHIA expects to cooperate with other regions in setting up 10 card-issuing locations in order to provide rural residents with considerate NHI services.

  Lee also explained how the NHI card has become a crucial form of identification for people in their daily lives. If their NHI card is lost or improperly kept, people seeking medical attention would be unable to use their insurance, and will then have to pay for their own medical expenses first. Afterwards, they must then apply for a new NHI card and apply for reimbursement with their new card. According to NHIA statistics, over one million people apply for new cards every year because they have either lost or damaged their card. To save the trouble of having to apply for reimbursements, most NHI cardholders tend to personally visit the NHIA offices nearest to them to apply for a new card immediately, instead of waiting for the delivery of a new card by post. Because everyone, whether they live in either urban or rural areas, can lose or damage their NHI cards, and all of them would want to avoid the trouble of paying medical bills themselves and then applying for reimbursement, the NHIA takes these factors into consideration and worked with multiple agencies across Taiwan to develop card application services. This way, even citizens living in rural regions can enjoy such user-friendly services. Therefore, the NHIA prioritized selecting the following three areas as relay stations where card application services are offered: Yuli Township in Huatung Valley, Chenggong Township along the coastal line, and Dawu Township along the South-Link Line at the southernmost tip of Taitung.

  The NHIA indicated that it will persist in upholding the spirit of seeking innovation and improvement in pursuit of refined service quality. Furthermore, it will continue to plan timely, user-friendly services and search for collaborative opportunities in which multiple agencies can share and utilize resources. Ultimately, the NHIA expects to provide a comprehensive range of national healthcare services.

  • Date:2016-08-16